The Walrus

   The bellowing and roaring that one hears in the Arctic region may be a small herd of walruses protecting their camping grounds.

   These marine mammals are not beautiful creatures. Their faces have small eyes and nostrils, a stubby and broad snout, coarse, spike-like whiskers, no ears on the outside, and two teeth that form long, yellow-white tusks. These canine teeth grow to be 15 to 30 inches long and weigh up to nine pounds. They are used for getting food and defense. The male walruses can be twelve feet long and have an average weight of 2500 pounds. The mother walrus is slightly smaller. Being warm-blooded and spending much time swimming in cold waters of the north, the walrus has a thick, wrinkled skin covering from one-half to three inches of blubber. The feet are modified into flippers. The hair is very sparse and the color is the same in both sexes. They feed upon certain mollusks, crustaceans and worms.

   There are two kinds of walruses, the At­lantic and Pacific walruses, the latter having longer tusks and shorter whiskers. During the Pleistocene times, the ice cap moving south torced animals ahead of it. Consequently, wal­rus fossils have been found halfway down the Atlantic coast in the United States.

   The polar bear, killer whale and Eskimo and white men are the chief enemies of the wakus. The hide is used for leather, the flesh for meat and valuable oil, and the ivory tusks for weapons and ornaments.

   Walruses migrate down to the Bering Sea in the fall and return to the Arctic Ocean in spring. The female has one pup which spends much time riding piggy-back. It needs to nurse until its canines (tusks) are long enough to scoop up its own food, which may take two years.