Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) make trips from ice or land haul-out sites to forage for benthic prey. We describe dive and trip characteristics from time-depth-recorder data collected over a one-month period during summer from four male Pacific walruses in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Dives were classified into four types. Shallow (4 m), short (2.7 min), square-shaped dives accounted for 11% of trip time, and many were probably associated with traveling. Shallow (2 m) and very short (0.5 min) dives composed only 1% of trip time. Deep (41 m), long (7.2 min), square-shaped dives accounted for 46% of trip time and were undoubtedly associated with benthic foraging. V-shaped dives ranged widely in depth, were of moderate duration (4.7 min), and composed 3% of trip time. These dives may have been associated with navigation or exploration of the seafloor for potential prey habitat. Surface intervals between dives were similar among dive types, and generally lasted 1-2 min. Total foraging time was strongly correlated with trip duration and there was no apparent diel pattern of diving in any dive type among animals. We found no correlation between dive duration and postdive surface interval within dive types, suggesting that diving occurred within aerobic dive limits. Trip duration varied considerably within and among walruses (0.3-9.4 d), and there was evidence that some of the very short trips were unrelated to foraging. Overall, walruses were in the water for 76.6% of the time, of which 60.3% was spent diving.
Additional publication details
Summer diving behavior of male walruses in Bristol Bay, Alaska