Theme for January 2018 : Walrus

Walrus are marine mammals found in various regions of the Arctic, but divided into two distinct subspecies found in the Atlantic and Pacific regions. The images in this collection are all of Atlantic walrus in Svalbard, which is a group of islands belonging to Norway and situated half-way between the mainland of Norway and the North Pole.

Walrus are social animals and congregate together in large groups referred to as haul outs. Unless breeding, haul outs are sexually segregated. Solitary adult males are often seen on pieces of ice, resting from their feeding activities which involve diving down to the seabed looking for organisms such as clams.

The images here were all taken during a zodiac cruise on my trip to Svalbard in July 2018. In one of the images, you can see the ship in the background. Although it can be challenging to photograph from a zodiac as it bobs around on the water, being low down enables individual portraits to be captured that show off their magnificent tusks as well as the whiskers used to detect organisms on the seabed.

An adult male can be up to 3.5 m long and 1500 kg in weight. Their tusks can reach 1 m in length. They use their tusks to cut through ice and climb out of the water onto floating ice as well as for defence. Female walrus also have tusks but the females and their tusks are generally quite a bit smaller than the large bulls.

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