Ten Extreme Walrus Facts: Unrated
(a rejected article)
Once referred to as the “Filthy swine of the sea” by Nordic fishermen, walruses aren’t just your cliche grumpy fatties. They have huge tusks. Other than that, yeah. They’re pretty much the same. They even use large chunks of ice to float around on, much like many of the larger customers seen cruising around on the electric carts at the local grocery. And here’s ten more walrus facts you probably didn’t know.
1. Walruses are among the largest flippered mammals. Male walruses can weigh near 3,700 pounds, while the females can get up to 2,700 pounds. Now that’s a whole lot to love. They snack on about 6% of their body weight a day. That’s around 200 pounds (90.71 kilograms) of seafood. Run baby seal, run!
2. Walruses are carnivores, but they don’t get their massive girth from McDonalds. They prefer their local seafood joint, where they fill up on shellfish, small whales, seabirds, and even marine mammal carcasses. The slow moving shell fish don’t surprise me, but seabirds? They have to be the dumbest birds.
3. Orcas (killer whales) and polar bears are a walrus’s natural enemies. Of course when you’re tipping the scales at a few thousand pounds you’re going to attract some big eaters.
4. Walrus tusks are mainly used for self defense. Kind of like a fat vampire sinking its huge tusks into their foes flesh with thunderous blows. They also use them for hauling themselves out of the ocean onto ice. Right now I’m imagining the movie Cliff Hanger if they had cast Chris Farley instead.
5. The Walrus’s scientific name (Odobenus Rosmarus) means “tooth-walking sea horse.” It was named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, who is the father of modern systematic zoology and botany. If you think naming such a large beast after the tiny and gentle sea horse is odd, consider that the original meaning of the name Carl is peasant or commoner. Yet Carl von Linné (his noble name) was extremely wealthy.
6. Walrus mustaches are actually whiskers with the amazing ability to help them search out food on the seafloor. Reminds me of my uncle. He often referred to his mustache as a “flavor saver.” Eat your heart out Magnum P.I.
7. Female walruses are able to give birth starting at age 7, and gestation lasts for 15 months. About the only relief for those poor ladies is that they can only produce one calf every three years. Mother walrus to her mate: “You did this to me!”
8. The largest population of walruses in the world is the Pacific. These hefty beach goers spend the winter in Siberia, and their summer vacations in Northern Alaska. They wanted to vacation in California, but all those starving models make them nervous.
9. The estimated Walrus population worldwide is around 250,000 and declining. Some scientists blame a decline in sea ice, while others blame hunting. Though hunting of these animals was banned in the U.S. starting in 1940 and later in Canada, other parts of the world have no such laws. Now I’m no scientist, but I think their declining population might have something to do with their obesity issues.
10. Walruses can live for up to 40 years. The average life span is about 30 years. Do the math: That’s about 2,190,000 pounds of food per a walrus in their lifetime. Considering that one could start to understand why some countries might reconsider banning the killing of walruses, versus having enough food for their people to eat.