Walruses near Kvitøya in the Svalbard archipelago, Norway
© Ole Jorgen Liodden/Minden Picture
I am the walrus. I am the walrus
This herd of gentle giants is bobbing in the waters of the Svalbard archipelago, roughly midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. Walruses spend more than half their day in the water, masterfully foraging for clams and other marine organisms. 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 pinnipeds.Although walruses are agile swimmers, they move slowly on land, lumbering about on their flippers. The animals are big, growing up to 12 feet, with tusks that can be as long as 3 feet. Walruses use their tusks to fight and to poke up through the ice. They're highly social, and you’re unlikely to spot one outside of its herd, which can number in the hundreds.