During the SEES expedition to Svalbard, Sophie Brasseur, Roger Kirkwood and Geert Aarts studied the spatial distribution of Walrus at sea and their diet.
Walruses are mainly at sea
Although most walruses are sighted on land, they are marine mammals, and spend at least 80% of their time at sea. They forage in relative shallow waters and predominantly feed on bivalves, although they also may catch other species, including birds or seals.
Retreating ice pack has a large effect
Most males make forage trips from land, but the females are mostly found on the pack ice with their young. The pack ice is very dynamic. Its extend changes seasonally and annually. If the pack ice retreats further North to deeper waters, females and their young will need to move to land sites. Some studies suggests this to be more risky. For this reason climate change can potentially have a large effect on the distribution, diet and population development of walruses. Walrus may therefore be an important species to study further.
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