Walrus Walrus

Sound Production

  • Walruses have vocal cords.
  • Walruses produce sounds both above and below water.
  • Walruses are among the most vocal of the pinnipeds. They produce growls, taps, knocks, grunts, barks, soft whistles, rasps, and clicks.
  • Male walruses produce bell-like sounds below water. These sounds are not produced by the vocal cords but originate from air sacs, which extend from the pharynx.
  • Calves bellow if disturbed.
  • Adults engaged in dominance conflicts may snort, cough, or roar.


Display Behavior

  • Walruses communicate through auditory and visual displays.
  • During courtship, males display visually and vocally from the water. Stereotyped sequences of sounds occur both above and below water. Underwater sounds include clicks or knocks, bell-like sounds, and taps. Above-water sounds include teeth clacking and whistles. Courtship displays continue until a female physically contacts a displaying male in the water.
  • Males engage in tusk-threat displays to establish dominance.


Other Communication

  • Walruses communicate through sound, sight, touch, and smell.
  • Tactile communication occurs through body contact.
    • Walruses haul out in herds in close contact with one another.
    • A mother shelters her calf under her chest between her foreflippers. A calf often rides on its mother's back in the water.
    • Adults engaged in dominance conflicts may strike each other with their tusks