Marine Mammal Science & Conservation


Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) – a rare guest in Lofoten!

Group formation: Gregarious groups

Size: 2.2 – 3.6 m, calf 1-1.4 m

Weight: males 900 kg, females 400-560 kg, calf 33-80 kg (born April-June)

Age: 40 yrs

Sexual maturity: males 15 yrs, females 7-8 yrs

Gestation: 15-16mths (3 yrs in between births)

Weaning: 1-5 years

Diet: > 60 genera of marine organisms, including shrimp, crabs, tube worms, soft corals, tunicates, sea cucumbers, various mollusks, and even parts of other pinnipeds, but prefers benthic bivalve mollusks – clams.

Distribution: Atlantic Population lives in the Canadian Arctic, across Greenland, Svalbard, and the western part of Arctic Russia, within 8 sub-populations.

Norway: there used to be walrus colonies in Norway but they were driven to extinction. Nowadays only males migrate to the Norwegian coast for feeding during the summer months and single males can be seen on a rare occasion, whereas females and calves stay in colonies in the Arctic (Svalbard). In 10 years we have seen 2 male walruses in Lofoten, one of them was shot by the salmon aquaculture, even though walruses do not feed on salmon!

Population: Atlantic walrus less than 20 000

Conservation Status: Data Deficient ver 3.1, Pop. trend: unknown

Threats: seal hunting (native Arctic people), tourism, chemical and plastic pollution, entanglement in fishing gear, over fishing, global warming.