Walruses are aquatic mammals best known for their tusks, whiskers and very large size. They are related to seals and sea lions and are second only to the elephant seals in terms of size. An adult male can weigh as much as 2,000 kg (4,400 lbs) and reach up to 4 m (13.1 ft) in length. They have long been an important species to humans who have hunted them for their meat, ivory and blubber. Walruses are found in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas in the Northern Hemisphere. The live in the shallow waters found near to the coast and spend most of their time on the sea ice searching for their favorite food. Let’s find out what walruses eat.
What do walruses eat?
Walruses use the sea ice as a platform for diving to the sea floor where they forage for food. Walruses have a varied diet and will feed on any available food that they can find. This includes about 60 types of marine organisms such as: crabs, worms, shrimp, sea cucumber, soft coral, and a number of mollusks. Their favorite food is bivalve mollusks, such as clams, and they will spend considerable time searching for these on the sea floor. They use jets of water and their flippers to clear the murky bottom and then use their whiskers to search for and identify their food. They suck the meat out by sealing their lips around the mollusk and then create a vacuum with their tongue. They need to eat large amounts of food to maintain their large size and are sometimes known to prey on seals up to 200 kg (440 lbs).
Did you know?
Walruses stir up lots of sediment on the ocean floor when they are feeding. This is actually very important for the ecosystem as it releases nutrients into the water column.