The tusks of a Walrus can reach up to 1 metre in length.

Pacific Walrus   © Jason Everett

Walruses are distinguished by their long white tusks, grizzly looking whiskers and large bodies which are filled with blubber. Their habitat around the Arctic Circle requires special equipment for survival.

The iconic tusks, which are found on both males and females, can extend to about one metre (three feet) in length, and are, in fact, large canine teeth, which grow throughout their lives.
The animals use them to haul their enormous bodies out of frigid waters, which resulted in being named “tooth-walking sea-horse” for the walrus’ scientific Latin name, Odobenus rosmarus.
Additionally, the tusks are also used to break breathing holes into ice from below and male walruses, or bulls, also employ them aggressively to maintain territory and protect their harems.

The walrus’ other characteristic features are equally useful. As their favourite meals, particularly shellfish, are found near the dark ocean floor, walruses use their extremely sensitive whiskers (called ‘mustacial vibrissae’) as detection devices. While their blubbery bodies allow them to live comfortably in the Arctic region—walruses are capable of slowing their heartbeats in order to withstand the polar temperatures of the surrounding waters.

« »