Walrus, Odobenidae, Odobenus, Tusks

When travellers arrive on their polar vacations expecting to find a myriad different creatures, one of the animals that necessarily makes the’top three’ list is the Walrus – and though it may seem difficult to believe without seeing these impressive animals in the flesh, there are plenty of reasons for this high regard. The Walrus is a fascinating creature in its own physical appearance, customs, and even in the way it became an integral force in the mythology and culture of the surrounding communities, who hunted the walrus for its meat, fat, tusks, and bone. Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of these animals will be well rewarded – after all, with their size, they are pretty difficult to miss!

Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating qualities you’ll notice about the Walrus during your polar vacations is the giant creatures’ tusks. Believe it or not, these elongated canines can attain lengths of up to one metre in both males and females – even though you may not be able to get close enough to measure them from tip to gum! The tusks are usually larger among men, where they’re used for fighting and dominance displays. No matter the sex of Walrus, though, their tusks come in handy in their everyday life – like to help make holes in ice, or to aid in dragging prey from the sea and onto a solid surface.

Predators and Prey

Due to its great bulk and intimidating tusks, the Walrus enjoys a life of relative safety from predators. It only needs to worry about two creatures hungry for a Walrus snack – the Orca, and the Polar Bear. Fortunately, however, the Walrus isn’t a large portion of predator’s diet, meaning there are always plenty around to see on your polar holidays.

The Walrus features prominently in the faith and folklore of many Arctic communities. In one version of the folktale’Myth of the Raven’ (where Raven recovers the stolen sun and moon from a spirit by seducing his daughter), the father hurls the daughter from a high cliff in retribution, and as she plummets into the water she transformed to the first Walrus. According to legend, the tusks were originally formed from the tears of the weeping girl. However, the Walrus has also featured in more modern stories across the world – those two distinctive tusks making them an instantly familiar creature, whether on polar holidays or in the pages of an illustrated children’s book. One of the most significant examples is from Lewis Carrol’s poem,’The Walrus and the Carpenter’, which appeared in his seminal’Through the Looking-Glass’, in 1871.

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