The walrus: the heaviest inhabitant of the Dolfinarium
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1.000 - 1.500 kg
Weight
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3 meter
Length
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30 km/h
Swimming speed
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30 minutes
Holding their breath
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40 years
Age
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How I sound
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About the walrus

The Pacific walrus lives in the Dolfinarium. It is one of two subspecies of walrus – the other subspecies is the Atlantic walrus.

Walruses in the wild

The name of our walrus subspecies, the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), already reveals that it lives in the Pacific Ocean, also known as the Pacific Ocean. It occurs here around the northern Arctic Circle, especially near Alaska and Russia. And no, they don’t get their name from being on the shore in Russia! Their name means ‘whale horse’. In the wild you can find them on ice floes and beaches, but they spend a lot of time in the water.

Walruses mainly eat shellfish, but also echinoderms, crustaceans and snails, which they usually look for at the bottom of the sea with their sensitive whiskers. They suck out the soft parts and leave the shell or shell behind. They also like to eat fish, if they can get hold of them. Adult walruses are not much hunted because of their size and strength, but young walruses should watch out for killer whales and polar bears.

Walruses are social animals that travel and rest in large groups. Sometimes large herds of walruses of thousands of animals gather to bask, rest or mate. During the mating season, from January to March, the males can be quite aggressive towards each other. And with their huge tusks, that’s quite an imposing sight! You don’t want to argue with that…

After the mating season, it takes about sixteen months for the young to be born. So they are more than a year pregnant! And although walrus means “whale horse”, we call young walruses a calf. Crazy, huh! Such a calf weighs no less than fifty kilos at birth and stays with its mother for the first two years to drink milk.

Physique

Walruses have distinctive tusks that can grow up to a meter long! They use these tusks to lift themselves out of the water and to break ice. The males also use them to protect their harem – which is why their tusks are often even larger than those of the females.

Walruses have a thick layer of mud that keeps them warm in the cold water. They also have a large mustache, with up to 500 sensitive whiskers that can grow up to a foot long. They use these to find their food – so they even feel the difference between a pebble and a mussel.

Want to see that tough mustache in action?

Then visit our walrus presentation The Big Whiskerrrs!

Read more about the presentation here!

Threats

The Pacific walruses in the wild are at risk (IUCN red-list status: vulnerable). Climate change is the biggest threat. Walruses depend on ice floes to rest and reproduce. But other factors, such as plastic waste, are also a danger.

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