As a lover of nature and owner of a small vacation rental in Pouch Cove, I often explore the outdoors, take photos, and share my experiences with guests in order to help them plan their vacation. There are no words to describe the tremendous thrill I felt when I saw a young walrus at Middle Cove Beach (just 15 minutes from my house). Here are some of the highlights of my adventure!
When I had first heard of the sighting of a walrus at Middle Cove Beach, I ran for my camera and raced to the area. On arrival, I was quite concerned that the walrus may be injured and was very hesitant to take photos. However, I was told that the walrus had been seen by officials and deemed to be fine.
Wildlife officials said that they had been tracking a walrus (? this one) for the past five years and that it is not unusual for a walrus to come ashore to rest on a sunny beach but that they are rarely seen because they tend to favor more isolated coastlines. They indicated that they believed (due to markings) that this walrus had come from Nunuvit (3000 km / 1864 miles away) and that some of the wounds on its body were a result of propeller injuries from ships.
After his arrival at Middle Cove Beach, the walrus nestled in a rocky ridge along the coastline where it slept soundly for many hours, waking only for a few moments to stretch, look around, yawn, and settle back to sleep.
Sometime over the course of that first night, the walrus moved up the beach to another rocky ridge. During the early morning hours of the second day, ocean water reached the walrus as the tide began to roll ashore. Evidently, he was not in the mood to swim, and he dragged his weary body to a standing position as he prepared to move further up the beach.
Immediately after the walrus was found, wildlife officials placed markers around its perimeter to keep people a safe distance from it. In the process of relocating, the walrus dragged the markers along with him. Despite this, his progress on the beach seemed unaffected.
Unlike the large colonies sometimes seen off isolated coastlines, this walrus appeared to be traveling alone. In speaking with wildlife officials onsite, we were told that this was consistent with a walrus sighting further north in January '22. That particular walrus remained at land for two days prior to returning to sea.
As my interest in these amazing mammals grew, I endeavored to learn more. I discovered that a walrus' tusks are important features that are used for self-defence, for hooking onto ice floes to float when feeling tired, and for pulling themselves out of the water. Observing him on land, I noticed that, whenever he lay on a soft surface, he would use his tusks to penetrate the earth before settling down to sleep. Perhaps this was done in order to help secure his position, or perhaps it was a method of monitoring vibrations in his vicinity to alert him of potential danger.
They prefer feeding at the bottom of shallow ocean waters, using their sensitive whiskers to help them find food. Their food preferences include clams, molluscs, worms, snails, soft shell crabs, shrimp and sea cucumbers. They can dive to a depth of up to 90 metres (about 300 feet) and hold their breath for up to 30 minutes at a time.
One of the things that puzzled me about the walrus was that the pictures shared by others seemed to have different colorations than my photos. Interestingly, I learned that a walrus' color can change frequently depending on environmental conditions (rose colored when laying in the sun and white toned when emerging from cold water). Although walruses prefer to rest on sea ice, many will be seen resting onshore during warmer months. There is concern that global warming (and diminishing ice masses) may create problems for the walrus populations. This walrus was believed to be about five years of age. As they can live for up to fourty years, with any luck, we may meet again!
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