1. Home
  2. Fun Animal Facts
  3. Did You Know? 19 Incredible Atlantic Walrus Facts

Animals

Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

Did You Know? 19 Incredible Atlantic Walrus Facts

Discover fascinating Atlantic walrus facts about its calves, young, predators, habitat, food, and more!

The Atlantic walrus, Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus, is one of the two main subspecies of walrus, the other one being the Pacific walrus. It is a huge marine animal that ranges between 109-124 in (277-315 cm) in length and 1763.7-2425 lb (800-1100 kg) in weight. It is renowned for its powerful, dominating presence, its ivory long tusks, and its whiskers. Males and females both possess tusks that are smaller than those of the Pacific walrus. It can be seen in Russia, Norway, Greenland, and Canada, and it was also once found in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and St. Lawrence, where it has now gone extinct. A small population of this species can be seen in the Central-Low Arctic and High Arctic in Canada. It is usually seen in the Arctic Ocean, or on haulouts (sea ice or land). Haulouts on ice provide them easier access to prey.

This walrus feeds upon mollusks like clams, fish like polar cod, and benthic invertebrates like gastropods, worms, crustaceans, cephalopods, sea cucumbers, and bearded and ringed seals. It can be seen on land in large groups, often in areas where the ice is prone to disappearing or shrinking. Surprisingly, the Atlantic walrus used to be hunted for its blubber, meat, and ivory in the 1600s and the 1800s and this caused the near extinction of this species. It is currently threatened by climate change and a loss of sea ice that has caused crowding at its preferred habitat sites. Keep reading to get to know more about the Atlantic walrus' habitat, distribution, predators, feeding behavior, and more!

For more, check out these Laptev walrus surprising facts and Pacific walrus interesting facts!

Atlantic Walrus Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Atlantic walrus?

The Atlantic walrus, Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus, is one of the two subspecies of walruses. There are two subspecies of walruses: Atlantic and Pacific walruses. Along with Atlantic and Pacific walruses, there is another subspecies of walrus that is uncertain: Laptev walruses. Atlantic walruses can be seen in Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia, and the Arctic Ocean.  

What class of animal does an Atlantic walrus belong to?

It belongs to the class of Mammalia.

How many Atlantic walruses are there in the world?

There are about 22,500 individuals of these walruses, with 12,000 in Canada, 6000 in Russia and Norway, and 4,500 in Greenland, as per recent population approximations. Their population is very small when compared to the 200,000 population of Pacific walruses in the United States and eastern Russia.

Where does an Atlantic walrus live?

This fascinating animal can be seen in Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. A small community of this walrus species can be spotted in the Central-Low Arctic and High Arctic in Canada. They live either in the Arctic Ocean or on sea ice or land (referred to as haulouts) in large groups.

What is an Atlantic walrus's habitat?

The habitat of this species includes sub-Arctic and Arctic regions (the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans). They aren't seen in Antarctica. This seal prefers to spend most of its day on haulouts where they socialize, relax, and reproduce. It dwells on lands in large groups where the sea ice disappears or shrinks. It can be seen in shallow waters that have a depth of 262 ft (79.8 m) and whose bottom substrate has an ample supply of mollusks. Their habitats also must have open water to feed and ice so that the walrus can haul itself out of the water. During the Arctic autumn and summer, it hangs out in specific areas like rocky shorelines that have an easy way to feeding sites. Their cousins, Pacific walruses, hang out on different surfaces like boulders and sand. They are not known to hibernate.

Who do Atlantic walruses live with?

They are social animals that can be spotted in large herds. They can be seen dwelling together on haulouts.

How long does an Atlantic walrus live?

Female walruses live longer than male walruses. A male can live only up to 15 years in the wild, whereas a female can live for 25-30 years. It is believed that male walruses have a shorter life as they face more dangers than female walruses, such as fighting with each other over territory or a female.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding of this species takes place in December and January. During these months, males show off along the edges of the ice to attract females and they might get aggressive. Males are also known to be territorial over their area. They perform visual and vocal displays to lure females. Females can give birth to a single calf once they are 10 years old. At approximately 30 days before the birth, the pregnant female walrus moves away from the group onto the ice where she births her calf. She fasts for the initial days and feeds her young with her low-fat milk for two to three years. After calves wean, a female calf joins the herd of its mother and a male calf joins a male herd. Males reach reproductive maturity at the age of 13 years whereas females reach sexual maturity at the age of 10 years.

What is their conservation status?

This walrus has been classified in the Vulnerable category by the IUCN's Red List. It is threatened by climate change and sea ice loss, due to which its preferred habitat sites get crowded. It is also sensitive to stress and loud noises. A disturbance can lead to a panicked rush that can become lethal to animals in this species. The decline in sea ice coverage has resulted in large gatherings at the shorelines of the Chukchi Sea. The calves of this species also face predation by polar bears and orca whales.

Atlantic Walrus Fun Facts

What do Atlantic walruses look like?

These walruses are known for their ivory long tusks, colorless whiskers, and dominant, powerful appearance. These walruses have a cinnamon brown coloration. They possess broad muzzles and small heads. They are quite huge, ranging between 109-124 in (277-315 cm) in length and they use their tusks to look for food on the ocean floor. These long tusks are smaller than those of the Pacific walrus and they are possessed by both male and female walruses. The tusks of females are shorter and narrower than the tusks of males. These tusks also aid in climbing onto ice floes and in portraying dominance. The longer and broader the tusks, the greater the dominance of the walrus.

The Atlantic walrus has a cinnamon brown coloration and can turn pink when it's warm!

How cute are they?

They are quite cute animals. They are quite sociable and friendly towards humans!

How do they communicate?

These animals communicate with each other by making loud noises, that can be heard especially in the mating season. Males also communicate with females in the breeding season through vocal and visual displays.

How big is an Atlantic walrus?

It ranges between 109-124 in (277-315 cm) in length. Its length is the same as that of the elephant seal!

How fast can an Atlantic walrus swim?

The hindlimbs and forelimbs of these walruses are similar to oars: webbed and sleek. If they get startled, they can easily swim at the speed of 22 mph (35.4 kph). These animals are also known to make shallow dives from pack ice. They can dive up to depths ranging between 260-300 ft (79.2-91.4 m).

How much does an Atlantic walrus weigh?

It weighs between the range of 1763.7-2425 lb (800-1100 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male walruses are referred to as bulls whereas female walruses are referred to as cows.

What would you call a baby Atlantic walrus?

The young of these walruses are referred to as calves.

What do they eat?

They feed upon mollusks like clams, fish like polar cod, and benthic invertebrates like gastropods, worms, crustaceans, cephalopods, and sea cucumbers. They may even hunt bearded and ringed seals. These creatures forage at the bottom of seas and feeding takes place at depths of 33-164 ft (10-50 m). As they can't see in the dark bottom of these waters, they rely on their colorless whiskers to find food. The young of these creatures are preyed upon by polar bears and orca whales.

Are they dangerous?

They aren't dangerous. However, given their huge size, anyone should maintain their distance when near them. They do not hunt humans, like polar bears. However, they may attack in self-defense.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these animals cannot be kept as pets as their natural habitat will be impossible to replicate.

Did you know...

Interestingly the tusks of male and female walruses of this species grow throughout their lives!

Is the Atlantic walrus endangered?

Yes, this walrus is endangered. It is officially classified as Vulnerable. The ice in the Arctic is slowly shrinking which is a major part of its environment. It is threatened by climate change, hunting activities, commercial fisheries, predation, noise disturbance, and industrial activities.

How fast is a walrus on land?

This walrus walks on land using its hind limbs. It utilizes its limbs to thrust itself forward in small jumps. Its speed on land has not been evaluated yet. However, it has been observed to move as fast as a human being at times.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other marine mammals from our fur seal surprising facts and false killer whale interesting facts pages!

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Atlantic walrus coloring pages!

Subscribe_Hero
Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.

EXPLORE KIDADL
In need of more inspiration?