One of the Arctic’s big five is the walrus. At least five times bigger than all other Arctic seals, its tusks and bristly moustache make it instantly recognisable. As the ice in Tremblay starts to open up, much to our delight we are paid a visit by two walruses – a mother and her young.
It is the first time since this science program started that walruses have been spotted at Tremblay – a very rare treat for us all. At the call of “Walrus!”, all tents are emptied in seconds and there is much excited chatter and dashing about for cameras and binoculars as they cruise past camp, obviously checking us out.
Walruses were commercially hunted to near extinction historically but have been slowly bouncing back in recent times. Now there are about 25,000 in the north Atlantic. These fin-footed giants dine in shallow waters and can eat several thousand clams per day. Superbly adapted, they have sensitive moustaches to find their prey and they use their tongues and lips to suck the meat from the shells like powerful vacuum cleaners. As the pair take a last breath before they dive under the water, we catch a glimpse of their enormous bodies – a truly awesome sight!