ELEPHANT SEAL VS WALRUS – Who would win this deadly struggle?


Who would win a deadly struggle between a walrus and elephant seal? There are two species of elephant seal. They are the sole members of the genus ‘Mirounga’ of the family ‘Phocidae’ or ‘true seals’. The Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris) and the Southern Elephant Seal. The Northern elephant seal, somewhat smaller than its southern relative. Walruses are the gentle giants of the Arctic. They are among the largest pinnipeds — fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals. However, while they have an intimidating size, and are carnivores, these animals are not aggressive. CHARACTERISTICS The Elephant seal gets its name for being very large and having a nose with a small trunk-like proboscis. Males, also called bulls, use these trunks to fight for breeding rights. The elephant seals can barely move on land because of their heavy weight however, flippers make these creatures swift and powerful swimmers, but they are not strong enough to lift their body off the ground. The Elephant seals nose is used in producing extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating season. The largest known bull elephant seal was 22 feet in length and weighed 7500 pounds. Elephant seals are shielded from cold by their blubber, much more than by fur. The skin on top of this blubber and its hair molts. Walruses have large, flabby bodies covered in brown or pink skin. Short fur covers most of their bodies except for their fins. Their faces feature two small eyes, a mustache and two long tusks. Walruses weigh from 1,320 to 3,300 lbs. and can be as long as 10.5 feet. Males are about twice as big as females, have longer and thicker tusks, and usually have thicker skin. Walrus tusks can grow up to 3 feet. The tusks are canine teeth and stick out from either side of the animal’s mouth. Walruses use their tusks to break through ice, and to assist in climbing out of the water and onto the ice. DISTRIBUTION and HABITAT Southern Elephant Seal These particular seals love the rocky island shores out there around the Antarctic. They are found in the various oceans around the world as well. There is approximately 650,000 of them out there. They love to spend most of their time in the water so they need to be in locations that have plenty of food for them as well. Northern elephant seals are found in the eastern and central North Pacific Ocean. Though they range as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico, they typically breed in the Channel Islands of California or Baja California in Mexico. Most walruses live in frigid waters near the Arctic Circle. They prefer areas with shallow water so they can easily access food. Walruses climb up on ice or beaches to sleep or to rest. They don’t move quickly on land but are swift in the water. They gather by the hundreds to sunbathe on the ice. Diet Elephant seals presumably feed in deep water and eat squid, and fish. They can fast as long as 3 months. If these food sources are scarce they may consume small sharks that are around their natural habitat. They can dive into the water and not come back up for up to two hours. They have been recorded more than 3,000 feet below the surface in order to find the food they need to survive. Walruses are carnivores, but they aren’t ferocious hunters. The walrus’ favorite food is shellfish. They dive underwater and use their whiskers to detect the shellfish in the dark waters of the ocean. A walrus can eat up to 4,000 clams in one feeding. When food is hard to come by, walruses will also eat the carcasses of dead seals. REPRODUCTION The female Elephant seals arrive at the rookeries (breeding grounds) in late December. Elephant seals give birth within a week, usually to a single pup. Gestation lasts about 350 days. The greatest threat to the young pups is the heavy-bodied adult males, which totally ignore the presence of the pups and sometimes crush them. Female Elephant seals will bite and sometimes kill pups that are not their own. Female walruses give birth to their young, called calves, during their migration in the springtime. After a gestation of 15 to 16 months, the female will give birth to one calf. Very rarely, walruses will give birth to twins. As soon as the calf is born, it can swim. It will swim along with its mother for the first three years of its life. Then, at 3 years old, the male calves will go off to live with the male herd. At 15, the male will start to mate. Females will mate as soon they reach 5 years old. Walruses can live up to 40 years. BEHAVIOUR The elephant seal is a powerful swimmer and well adapted to an aquatic life. The seals may be solitary at sea, but become very social on the beach. Even during nonbreeding times of the year, they will lie close together on the sand. The males arrive at rookery sites in early December and remain throughout the breeding season without going to sea to feed. Because they move slowly and awkwardly on land, the males cannot defend large territories or large numbers of females. Elephant seals spend an unusual amount of time in the ocean, up to 80% of their lives. Elephant seals can hold their breath for over 80 minutes, longer than any other non-cetacean mammal. Furthermore, elephant seals are incredible divers as well, with an ability to dive to 1500 metres beneath the oceans surface. The average depth of their dives is about 300 to 600 metres, as they search for their favourite food. Walruses are very social animals and congregate in large numbers. They haul out in herds and males and females form separate herds during the non-breeding season. They establish dominance through threat displays involving tusks, bodies and aggression. CONSERVATION STATUS During the nineteenth century, Elephant seals were hunted to near extinction and the entire population of Northern elephant seals was reduced to a small herd of less than 100 individuals on Isla de Guadalupe. The protection of this species during the twentieth century resulted in a gradual recovery, and the population spread north to other islands and some mainland beaches. The current population has been estimated at over 150,000. In the 1950s, the population of walruses was almost eliminated due to commercial hunting, but the population was brought back to a thriving number in the 1980s. Well since these animals would have no reason to fight in real life, let’s assume thay have some kind of combative intent. Elephant seal is the largest most powerful of all elephant seals, and have to fight off all comers to retain the rights to mates with all the females on their beach. As such some of these, southern elephant males, can grow up to 7500 pounds in weight and be over 22 feet long. Male Pacific Walruses can grow up to 3300 pounds in size and 10.5 feet in length. The mass, and power, of an elephant seal dominant male would be much great than the equivalent walrus, and in addition the elephant seal is a more aggressive and combatitive than the Walrus. In my opinion the elephant would win, its blubber would likely protect it from all but the most well placed tusk jab, elephant seals have smaller tusks, but jagged like that of a boar, they can shred enemies into ribbons, that said the method with which an elephant seal attacks, ie a headbutt can be likened to a baseball bat with barbed wire on it.

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