Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)

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



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



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

Depth range


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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  1. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h1ln5p accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-12

  4. Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, 2018. Vertebrates (except birds, INNS and restricted records), Outer Hebrides. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/dax3tf accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  5. West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, 2018. Mammal Records (West Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vitiic accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Odobenus rosmarus Walrus. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 12-06-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/128

Last Updated: 02/06/2008