Walruses Are Deadly Hunters, Not Cute and Squishy
by Jason G. Goldman
Despite their tusks, walruses seem cute. Indeed, most marine biologists think they use their massive chompers just to eat clams and other shellfish. But walruses have a secret: they sometimes indulge in meatier meals.
The first clue that walruses used their tusks for more than breaking through clamshells came in 2008, when the BBC revealed footage of walruses chasing after eider ducks. “What? Walruses hunting ducks? Didn’t they eat clams and other shellfish? What nonsense!” thought marine biologist Adrian Burton. “Yet here was visual evidence that these white-tusked, bristle-lipped pinnipeds might be something more than the bottom-feeding mollusk-munchers I had thought them to be.”
When a paper was published describing the scene caught by the BBC, the authors were careful to note that they never witnessed a walrus actually catching a duck, only chasing them. Perhaps they were playing, rather than hunting?
As Burton discovered, evidence is slowly accumulating that walruses indeed dine on the occasional feathered specimen. And it’s not just birds, either. Walruses were also found feasting on seals. Evidence for that went all the way back to 1889…
(read more at io9)
photograph via USFWS

Walruses Are Deadly Hunters, Not Cute and Squishy

by Jason G. Goldman

Despite their tusks, walruses seem cute. Indeed, most marine biologists think they use their massive chompers just to eat clams and other shellfish. But walruses have a secret: they sometimes indulge in meatier meals.

The first clue that walruses used their tusks for more than breaking through clamshells came in 2008, when the BBC revealed footage of walruses chasing after eider ducks. “What? Walruses hunting ducks? Didn’t they eat clams and other shellfish? What nonsense!” thought marine biologist Adrian Burton. “Yet here was visual evidence that these white-tusked, bristle-lipped pinnipeds might be something more than the bottom-feeding mollusk-munchers I had thought them to be.”

When a paper was published describing the scene caught by the BBC, the authors were careful to note that they never witnessed a walrus actually catching a duck, only chasing them. Perhaps they were playing, rather than hunting?

As Burton discovered, evidence is slowly accumulating that walruses indeed dine on the occasional feathered specimen. And it’s not just birds, either. Walruses were also found feasting on seals. Evidence for that went all the way back to 1889…

(read more at io9)

photograph via USFWS

Hey There Pretty Lady ({:3=
A close up of a female walrus resting after entering the haulout. Sand from the beach is evident on her tusks. Thousands of walruses gathered to rest on the shore near the Alaskan coastal community of Point Lay during September of 2013 after sea ice disappeared from their offshore foraging grounds in the eastern Chukchi Sea. The Pacific walrus is a large pinniped, resident in the Bering and Chukchi Seas of Russia and Alaska, and is one of four marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Walruses feed on clams and a wide variety of other invertebrates from the seafloor. They rest between feeding trips on sea ice or land. Sea ice provides walruses with a resting platform, access to offshore feeding areas, and seclusion from humans and predators. The constant motion of sea ice transports resting walruses over widely dispersed prey patches.Photo taken during USGS research efforts permitted under US Fish and Wildlife Service, Location: Point Lay, AK, USAPhotographer: Ryan Kingsbery, USGS 
(via: U.S. Geological Survey)

Hey There Pretty Lady ({:3=

A close up of a female walrus resting after entering the haulout. Sand from the beach is evident on her tusks. Thousands of walruses gathered to rest on the shore near the Alaskan coastal community of Point Lay during September of 2013 after sea ice disappeared from their offshore foraging grounds in the eastern Chukchi Sea.

The Pacific walrus is a large pinniped, resident in the Bering and Chukchi Seas of Russia and Alaska, and is one of four marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Walruses feed on clams and a wide variety of other invertebrates from the seafloor. They rest between feeding trips on sea ice or land. Sea ice provides walruses with a resting platform, access to offshore feeding areas, and seclusion from humans and predators. The constant motion of sea ice transports resting walruses over widely dispersed prey patches.

Photo taken during USGS research efforts permitted under US Fish and Wildlife Service, Location: Point Lay, AK, USA

Photographer: Ryan Kingsbery, USGS

(via: U.S. Geological Survey)

The Unexpected Walrus: 
It’s smarter, more dangerous, and more musical, than you might think.
by Jeremy Berlin
On ice floes and rocky beaches in the far North Atlantic, cinnamon brown blobs pile up in living heaps. Some weigh more than a ton. Some are longer than ten feet. Each is a rumpled portrait of buckteeth and whiskers, deep scars and bloodshot eyes. They nap, burp, squabble, and bark—“something between the mooing of a cow and the deepest baying of a mastiff,” noted a 19th-century explorer.
Walruses may seem familiar from Beatles lyrics and Lewis Carroll verses, but most of us will never see a herd in the wild. And few photographers have documented this dangerous, musical, and socially sophisticated pinniped, a fin-footed kin to seals, sea lions, and sea elephants.“I used myself as bait,” says Paul Nicklen, who spent three weeks aiming his lens at Atlantic walruses with the help of Swedish diver Göran Ehlmé.
“I sat on the shore, and the walruses would come along. They’d get curious. But they have to hit you with their tusks to figure out what you are. And for a walrus to hit one of us can be lethal…”
(read more: National Geo)
Photo by Paul Nicklen

The Unexpected Walrus:

It’s smarter, more dangerous, and more musical, than you might think.

by Jeremy Berlin

On ice floes and rocky beaches in the far North Atlantic, cinnamon brown blobs pile up in living heaps. Some weigh more than a ton. Some are longer than ten feet. Each is a rumpled portrait of buckteeth and whiskers, deep scars and bloodshot eyes. They nap, burp, squabble, and bark—“something between the mooing of a cow and the deepest baying of a mastiff,” noted a 19th-century explorer.

Walruses may seem familiar from Beatles lyrics and Lewis Carroll verses, but most of us will never see a herd in the wild. And few photographers have documented this dangerous, musical, and socially sophisticated pinniped, a fin-footed kin to seals, sea lions, and sea elephants.“I used myself as bait,” says Paul Nicklen, who spent three weeks aiming his lens at Atlantic walruses with the help of Swedish diver Göran Ehlmé.

“I sat on the shore, and the walruses would come along. They’d get curious. But they have to hit you with their tusks to figure out what you are. And for a walrus to hit one of us can be lethal…”

(read more: National Geo)

Photo by Paul Nicklen

Walruses  (Odobenus rosmarus)
… are year-round residents of the arctic oceans. Their huge bulk is an adaptation to the cold of the long arctic winter, lowering their surface area-to-volume ratio to keep more heat inside. Males can grow up to 12 feet (3.6 m) long and weigh an average of 2000 lbs (900 kg). They also wear a very thick skin - the skin itself can be up to 4 inches (10 cm) thick on parts of their body, and the blubber layer underneath an additional 6 inches (15 cm). 
Their most familiar feature is, of course, their tusks; these can grow up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long. They’re used mainly for dominance and other social displays, and the strongest males with the largest tusks are usually at the head of a group. They may also use their tusks to break holes in the ice and to help pull themselves out of the water, but the long teeth aren’t used in feeding. Walruses eat crustaceans and invertebrates from the sea floor in the shallow areas just offshore. 
They find their prey using their faceful of whiskers, called vibrissae. Each is exceptionally sensitive, and with them the walrus can distinguish food items as small as a tenth of an inch (3 mm). Walruses have two other interesting anatomical features: they have an air pouch in their throat that they can inflate to allow them to hang suspended vertically in the water to sleep; and they have the largest baculum (the bone in the penis) of any animal, both relative to body size and in absolute terms, at up to 25 inches (63 cm) long.
photo by Polar Cruises on Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Walruses (Odobenus rosmarus)

… are year-round residents of the arctic oceans. Their huge bulk is an adaptation to the cold of the long arctic winter, lowering their surface area-to-volume ratio to keep more heat inside. Males can grow up to 12 feet (3.6 m) long and weigh an average of 2000 lbs (900 kg). They also wear a very thick skin - the skin itself can be up to 4 inches (10 cm) thick on parts of their body, and the blubber layer underneath an additional 6 inches (15 cm).

Their most familiar feature is, of course, their tusks; these can grow up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long. They’re used mainly for dominance and other social displays, and the strongest males with the largest tusks are usually at the head of a group. They may also use their tusks to break holes in the ice and to help pull themselves out of the water, but the long teeth aren’t used in feeding. Walruses eat crustaceans and invertebrates from the sea floor in the shallow areas just offshore.

They find their prey using their faceful of whiskers, called vibrissae. Each is exceptionally sensitive, and with them the walrus can distinguish food items as small as a tenth of an inch (3 mm). Walruses have two other interesting anatomical features: they have an air pouch in their throat that they can inflate to allow them to hang suspended vertically in the water to sleep; and they have the largest baculum (the bone in the penis) of any animal, both relative to body size and in absolute terms, at up to 25 inches (63 cm) long.

photo by Polar Cruises on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Pacific Walrus 


The Pacific walrus faces warming temperatures and a loss of its habitat. These walruses depend on sea ice to birth and take care of their young, but melting glaciers means that they have to venture onto land for food, which can often lead to overcrowding and stampedes, according to the National Wildlife Federation. While the current size of the walrus population is unknown, it was last estimated to be about 129,000 in a 2006 survey.
Photo: Rodney Ungwiluk, Jr. Photography via Getty Images
(via: TakePart.org)
Pacific Walrus

The Pacific walrus faces warming temperatures and a loss of its habitat. These walruses depend on sea ice to birth and take care of their young, but melting glaciers means that they have to venture onto land for food, which can often lead to overcrowding and stampedes, according to the National Wildlife Federation. While the current size of the walrus population is unknown, it was last estimated to be about 129,000 in a 2006 survey.

Photo: Rodney Ungwiluk, Jr. Photography via Getty Images

(via: TakePart.org)

Ancient ‘Killer Walrus’ Not So Deadly After All

by Megan Gannon

A “killer walrus” thought to have terrorized the North Pacific 15 million years ago may not have been such a savvy slayer after all, researchers say.

A new analysis of fossil evidence of the prehistoric beast shows it was more of a fish-eater than an apex predator with a bone-crushing bite.

Traces of the middle Miocene walrus, named Pelagiarctos thomasi, were first found in the 1980s in the Sharktooth Hill bone bed of California. A chunk of a robust jawbone and sharp pointed teeth, which resembled those of the bone-cracking hyena, led researchers to believe the walrus ripped apart birds and other marine mammals in addition to the fish that modern walruses eat today.

But a more complete lower jaw and teeth from the long-gone species were recently discovered in the Topanga Canyon Formation near Los Angeles. Researchers say the shape of the teeth from this new specimen suggest the walrus was unlikely adapted to regularly feed on large prey. Instead, they think it was a generalist predator, feasting on fish, invertebrates and the occasional warm-blooded snack…

(read more: Live Science)           

(images: Robert Boessenecker, PLOS ONE, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.005431)

Call of the Wild: World’s Largest Animal Sound Archive Goes Digital

by Live Science staff

An archive of tens of thousands of animal sounds has just gone online.

http://macaulaylibrary.org/

The searchable Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology boasts nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings, covering about 9,000 noisy species, with a total run time of 7,513 hours. Though there’s an emphasis on birds, the collection contains sounds from across the animal kingdom, from elephants to elephant seals.

Some of the highlights of the collection include recordings of the curl-crested manucode, a bird-of-paradise in New Guinea, whose otherworldly calls sound like UFOs landing in a sci-fi movie. There’s also a clip of a song sparrow recorded in 1929 by Cornell Lab founder Arthur Allen, which is the earliest recording in the collection…

(read more)

(images: TL - S.A. Sonsthagen/USGS; TR - USFWS; BL - wadems | wikimedia; BR - Stanly Trauth)

Visit the library here: http://macaulaylibrary.org/