The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission

Contact

Upcoming events:

NAMMCO 25

Atlantic Walrus

CLydersen walrus head close up 110 1087

Photo: K. Kovacs and C. Lydersen / Norwegian Polar Institute

The walrus is one of the largest members of the Pinnipeds (the group which contains all types of seals and walrus), and is the largest member of this group to live in the Arctic. Two distinct subspecies are recognised: Atlantic and Pacific walrus. The Atlantic walrus is the slightly smaller of the two, with males reaching weights around of 1200 to 1500 kg and lengths of close to 3 m. Females are smaller than males, weighing up to around 600–700 kg and reaching lengths of 2.5 m (Born et al. 1995). A male Pacific walrus can weigh up to 1700 kg and be nearly 4 m long.

Walrus Greenland and Canada crop for web

Summer distributions of walruses in Greenland and Canada. Known wintering areas shown in white. 

Walrus Sval FJL Bar Kar crop for web

Summer distribution of walruses in Svalbard-Franz Josef Land and the Barents/Kara Seas. 

 

Distribution

Walruses are found in Arctic waters, in areas that are seasonally ice-covered. They are found in the northern waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia.

Abundance

There are several stocks of walruses. The largest are found in Arctic Canada and West Greenland, where walruses number about 20,000 animals.

Conservation and Management

Management in Greenland by Greenland Government with scientific and management advice from NAMMCO. Management national in other areas. Canada and Russia participate in NAMMCO Scientific Working Groups on walrus.

Relation to Humans

Hunted by native peoples for food, leather and tusks in Canada and Greenland. Population were reduced by past commercial hunting in all areas.

North Atlantic Stocks: Exploitation and Assessment Status

Walrus assessment table 2015

References