Pages from the Arctic Archive II

Let me say some things about the walrus. First, they’re large. Like incredibly large. Why did I think they were the size of seals? No idea, but they’re close to being 1000 pounds, which is an incredible amount of blubber. One large adult walrus carcass is enough to feed up to 5 polar bears for an entire summer – and polar bears aren’t exactly small either!

Secondly, their eyes are very judgmental. We got lucky enough to get fairly close to some walruses on a beach – they were in the water, we were on land, and the walruses came up and very much judged us, likely wondering if we seemed like we had good brains to be sucked out.

That leads me to my third point. Walruses can be pretty terrifying. Apart from the fact that they have large tusks that serve no real purpose but can absolutely tear you apart, and that if they stampede to the beach, they will run you over and crush you without second thought, but they have the strongest natural vacuum in the world. Usually, they feed on mollusks and shellfish and can suck the entire thing out of the shell through a teeny tiny hole without breaking the shell. They’ve also been known to suck out seals’ brains, and I’ve been told one has even sucked out an entire bird through its anus, causing a bit of an implosion. How is that not the stuff of nightmares?

Fourthly, walruses are pretty cute. I mean, apart from their propensity to suck brains out. They don’t really see humans much, so they’re really quite curious about us, as long as they’re in the water. They stared at us for even longer than we stared at them. They left us, they came back. We were the spectacle just as much as they were. When we walked down the beach, they followed us part of the day, heads weaving in and out of the water, watching us with their judging eyes.

And lastly, walruses are pretty invincible. You would think that in the Arctic, polar bears are the top of the food chain. And they are! After all, they do eat walruses. But they can’t really kill an adult walrus. The hide around a walrus’s neck is 10 centimeters thick, so unless a polar bear can gouge the walrus’s eyes out, it’s not getting through the neck. A polar bear can get some baby walruses, but only if they scare the mothers enough for them to stampede out into the water and crush their own babies in the process. Which is quite sad and kind of funny at the same time. Because a walrus could totally take a polar bear. They’re just so awkward and nervous and blubbery on land that they don’t think they can take anything.