"The walrus with its large body and highly distinctive tusks is easily recognizable."

Walruses in Greenland

The walrus with its large body and highly distinctive tusks is easily recognizable. Its tusks can grow up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) in length and are used by the walrus as a useful tool, for example when hauling itself up onto an ice floe.

The tusks are also used in self-defence when killer whales or polar bears attack the walrus, which can be up to 3 metres (10 feet) in length and weigh 1000 kg (2,200 lbs).

 

 

Where to find walruses

Walruses are seen on land and along the coast throughout East Greenland, in particular between 63° and 81° N. In North Greenland the Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and the Thule district are the best places to see walruses.

In West Greenland - where the walrus does not venture onto land - they can be seen from Sisimiut and north towards the Thule district.

Considering that Greenland's coastline is more than 44,000 km (27,500 miles) in length, walruses are relatively few in number.

"Considering that Greenland's coastline is more than 44,000 km (27,500 miles) in length, walruses are relatively few in number."

"Walruses generally stay close to the edge of the sea ice or on drifting ice floes."

Forage for food

Walruses generally stay close to the edge of the sea ice or on drifting ice floes where the depth of the sea is less than 100 metres (330 feet). Here it can dive to pick up mussels and molluscs, which make up its chief sources of nutrition, and it is thought that it uses its tusks to scrape the seabed looking for food.

Hunting for walruses

For the Inuits the walrus has always been an important animal to hunt, and one which was also particularly dangerous to meet in a kayak. Its beautiful tusks have afforded it respect in Greenlandic myths and legends, but also almost cost it its existence due to intensive hunting by foreign companies which began as early as the 17th century.

"For the Inuits the walrus has always been an important animal to hunt."

In 1952 the walrus became a fully protected species, and since that time populations have gradually recovered.

Today quota-based hunting of the walrus takes place in Greenland's hunting districts, and the export of souvenir products from the walrus requires a CITES certificate, which can be obtained from tourist offices or in souvenir shops."

"In 1952 the walrus became a fully protected species, and since that time populations have gradually recovered."