Only living species (Odobenus rosmarus) of the pinniped family Odobenidae. Larger than the related seals, walrus males grow up to 12 ft (3.7 m) long and weigh up to 2,800 lbs (1,270 kg). Both sexes have long, downward-pointing tusks that may grow to 3 ft (1 m) long and weigh 12 lbs (5.4 kg) each. They have no external ears. The grayish skin is deeply folded over the shoulders. They live on ice floes, in groups of up to 100, on relatively shallow water in arctic seas of Eurasia and North America. They may dive to great depths in search of food, mostly shellfish. On land and ice, they move on all four limbs. They generally follow the ice line south in winter and north in summer. Traditionally important to native humans as sources of food and clothing, they have also been hunted commercially for centuries, which has resulted in serious depletion of their numbers. Commercial hunting is now generally banned.
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus).—© Corbis
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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