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.