MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

The warus Odobenus rosmarus is the only member of its family and is very easily identified. Like seals, walruses have both pectoral flippers and tail flippers as well as a muzzle with long whiskers. The walrus differs by having a broad muzzle with the whiskers on the front end, and by having two large tusks up to 1 m in length. The walrus is a large and bulky species reaching up to 3.6 m in length. Its skin is notably thick, rough and creased. It has small 'bloodshot' eyes. The tail end is enclosed in a web of skin. Most walruses are grey to cinnamon-brown in colour, becoming paler with age. The skin becomes flushed with blood when warm and they acquire a rosy red colouration.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Usually found in Arctic waters but individuals have been found in the North Sea, the west coast of Ireland and one record exists for the Firth of Clyde, Scotland.

Global distribution

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Habitat

The walrus is found in shallow water and coastal habitats, on sandy beaches and rocky shores.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Large, bulky body up to 3.6 m in length.
  • Broad muzzle with long whiskers at the front.
  • Two large tusks up to 1 m in length.
  • Thick and creased skin.

Additional information

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Bibliography

  1. BMLSS (British Marine Life Study Society), 2008. Sea Mammals: Seals Page. www.glaucus.org.uk/seals1.htm, 2008-03-13

  2. Corbet, G.B. & Southern, H.N., 1977. The handbook of British Mammals. 2nd edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford & London.

  3. Evans, P.G.H. & Raga, J. A. (ed.), 2001. Marine mammals: biology and conservation New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers

  4. Hewer, H.R. 1974. British Seals. London : Collins

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. Kinze, C. C., 2002. Photographic Guide to the Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  7. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  8. Nowak, R.M., 2003. Walker's Marine Mammals of the World. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

  9. Shetland Sea Mammal Group 2008. Vagrant Seals in Shetland. www.nature-shetland.co.uk/seamammal/rareseals.htm, 2008-03-13

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Odobenus rosmarus Walrus. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/128

Last Updated: 02/06/2008