Walruses near Kvitøya in the Svalbard archipelago, Norway
© Ole Jorgen Liodden/Minden Picture
Gentle giants. I am the walrus
It takes a special class of ship to push through the sea ice to get to these walruses. These gentle giants are bobbing in the waters of the Svalbard archipelago, roughly midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Walruses spend more than half of their day in the water, masterfully foraging for clams and other marine organisms. For the rest of the time they hang out on ice floes, the males and females huddled separately, taking a break before diving in for more food. Walruses launch from the ice to eat, making the floating blocks an important part of their survival. With the effects of climate change increasing, Arctic ice is melting, posing an existential threat to the ancient creatures.Although walruses are agile swimmers, they move slowly on land, using their flippers and long tusks to lumber about. Walruses also use their tusks to fight and to poke up through the ice for air. The animals are big, growing up to 12ft in length, with tusks that can be as long as 3ft. They may seem intimidating but tend to be friendly and kind. You are unlikely to spot one outside of its herd, which can be made up of hundreds of walruses.