What do walruses eat?
Due to the overwhelming size of the walrus it is no surprise that they consume very large amounts of food. They tend to stay close to the shorelines but they will dive up to 260 feet to find food that they want to consume. They are able to stay under the water for about 30 minutes before coming up for air.
Their main source of feeding on a variety of mollusks. They seem to have a preference for clams. However, they are extremely opportunistic so they will consume a wide variety of things found in the water. This includes shrimp, crab, worms, and coral. Some research does show that the walrus will consume seal carcasses and birds if necessary. This has been verified through stomach contents of deceased walrus.
There is evidence to suggest that some walruses may have a desire to feed upon seals though after they have been forced to do so for a period of time. The profiles for these individuals are usually extremely large males. They may consume so many seals in their life time that they end up with stains on their skin due to the grease from them. It is believed that these larger walruses tend to feel full when they have something in their bodies that offer more sustenance and they find it with the meat from seals.
In the water they have no trouble getting food as they use their whiskers to find it and their flippers to grab it. They have a very interesting way of consuming their food. A walrus features a powerful jaw. It is able to suck the meat out of the food source by a combined action with the lips and the tongue. It creates a seal that is very similar to the suction of a vacuum cleaner.
They don’t have the best vision for the murky waters, but they more than make up for it with the sensations in their whiskers. They are searching for food low enough that their tucks drag through the sediment. This can help to expose food sources. They also will accumulate large amounts of water and then spray it out with force. This too allows food sources to be uncovered.
They will generally consume about 6% of their total body weight. When you consider that some of them are more than 3,000 pounds though that is a huge amount of food that they have to forage for every single day. They don’t take too much time doing it though, as most of them feed only twice a day. They can consume thousands of clams in a few minutes though which will fill them up.
They don’t chew food even though they have teeth. Instead it is swallowed whole. If they have large prey they may use their teeth to crush it into pieces that are easier for them to swallow. They are also known to swallow various sized stones from the water as they consume their food. These stones don’t seem to harm them but they have been found in the stomachs of deceased walruses.