The Unusual Pembrokeshire Visitor
We have a walrus!
Well, at time of writing Pembrokeshire has had a sighting of a walrus that has caught us all by surprise.
The beastie, spotted near Broad Haven, is reported to be the size of a cow. Experts say that from the size of its tusks it seems to be a young one and may be the same creature that was spotted recently off the County Kerry coast in Ireland.
Usually seen in the Arctic, this young fella is a long way from home but was declared uninjured when inspected by an RSPCA officer.
Walruses are classified as pinnipeds, like seals and sea lions. The name comes from the Latin for wing- or fin-footed as it’s fore and hindlimbs are flippers.
These creatures have 18 teeth, of which two grow to form their long tusks. Walruses can grow to 11 or 12 feet in length and weigh as much as 400lb. Females are smaller but both male and females have tusks. Often feeding on the floor of the ocean, they use their whiskers to sense their food which is sucked into their mouths. They are carnivores, feeding on things like clams and mussels as well as fish and seals. Being insulated by blubber that can be as much as six inches thick helps them to provide energy that keeps them going when food is scarce.
So that they can minimise oxygen loss underwater, walruses store oxygen in their muscles and blood when they dive. This means that they have at least twice as much blood as a land mammal of a similar size.
Walruses usually have one calf, occasionally two, with a single infant weighing about 100lb when born. Calves are fiercely protected by their mothers and they can stay together for two years or more. The gestation period is about 15 months.
Under ideal circumstances the walrus can live for 30 or 40 years, but if you come across one, it’s better to keep your distance. They may look bulky on land but it’s best not to tangle with one.