TGIF – Tusk tusk…

…that’s a lot of scrimshaw.

Video doing the rounds this week of some walruses hauled out at Point Lay Alaska.  No biggie, right?  Oh yeah, Biggie. Big-time Biggie. That’s because it isn’t ten or even a hundred walruses, but over TEN THOUSAND walruses.

Recession of sea ice is being proposed as an explanation for the unprecedented haulout.  Walruses would normally haul out onto floating ice cots to take a break from foraging for clams and other goodies on the bottom.  But without ice they have no choice but to hoof it (flipper it?) back to land for a rest.

From a purely bioenergetic perspective, it’s an amazing occurrence.  At some 3,500 pounds each, that many walruses adds up to over 16,000 tons of walrus meat in one place.  That’s about the same weight as a South Carolina Class Battleship.  Imagining the legions raking the bottom with their ivory tusks, I don’t expect there are too many benthic invertebrates left on the bit of coast adjacent to that.

I’m pretty sure they keep each other warm but the smell has got to be EPIC!

para_sight (138 Posts)

Dr. Alistair Dove is a systematic and ecological parasitologist by training, with broader research interests in the natural history and health of marine animals, especially whale sharks. He is currently Director of Research and Conservation at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta USA. His comments here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Georgia Aquarium





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5 comments on “TGIF – Tusk tusk…
    • Only ten thousand, mate, ten thousand. 16,000 walruses would be about the same as a Wyoming Class Battleship, DERR.

      I was just going to say “battleship” but then I found out that there is surprising variance in the displacement of modern dreadnaughts. Did I just spoil my own simile?

  1. I was in Point Lay three years ago during the haul out. It is nuts! You can hear them barking from miles away. And when the wind shifted once just right, you got the whiff.

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