ARCTIC SEA-ICE –The Man-Eating Walrus–

Photo Credit: Joel Garlich-Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

I confess the title of this piece is intended to be click-bait. Not that there is not such a thing as a man-eating walrus, but I am primarily aiming at undoing the damage done to me by censors in control of Google search engines, and sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Somebody somewhere has decided that there must be no questioning of the theory of Global Warming, and I apparently have been deemed such a questioner.

Not that I am able to adhere to the discipline of strictest science. Mostly, often in an intentionally silly way, I merely point out stupidities. The media makes little attempt to fact-check, when it comes to such politically correct narratives such as the theory of Global Warming, and it is quite easy for even a rank amateur such as myself to point out glaring inconsistencies between their narrative and recorded history. So, I have done so, often in a spirit of good-natured fun, and apparently made enough people chuckle so that even my silly posts might get 500 views, and one post even got 5000. But then the censorship hit, and now I’m lucky to get 50.

This seems unfair to me, and to violate Free Speech, and so on and so forth until I have worked myself into such a tizzy that I decide to fight fire with fire, and to utilize the irresistible click-bait of man-eating walruses. I figure this will overwhelm the capacity of analog censors to silence me, and I may reach a few people actually interested in sea-ice, besides the many who will be drawn by man-eating walruses.

I happen to know a thing or two about walruses because my mind has a strange capacity to absorb trivia, and trivia about trivia, and even trivia about trivia about trivia. Originally my interest was Greenland Vikings.

Greenland Vikings were able to raise several thousand cattle, and over a hundred thousand sheep and goats, on Greenland during the first decades after the year 1000. We can’t do that any more. This tidbit of history is a historical fact that the media failed to recognize, while touting the narrative that it is warmer now than it was in the Medieval Warm Period. It may indeed be the fact that got me censored.

But my further investigation of Greenland Vikings noticed they survived even when their cattle, sheep and goats didn’t do so well, as the climate slumped towards the Little Ice Age. They turned to trading, and one thing they had which Europe thirsted for was walrus ivory. This led to many delightful sidetracks involving walrus ivory, which of course led on to further trivia about the actual walruses the ivory came from.

(If you are interested in sculpted walrus ivory from the twelfth century, run “Lewis Chesspieces” through your search engine.)

One bit of trivia that delighted me was how the Europeans envisioned that the creature the tusks came from appeared. Many of us know the legend of the unicorn sprang from tusks of narwhales, but what sprang from the tusks of walruses?

One legend was the legend of the “morse”, which apparently slept while hanging by its tusks from cliffs. (Of course, I came across this because the Alarmist media was stating Global Warming was causing large numbers of walruses to fall from cliffs in Russia.) In any case, here is a somewhat skeptical discussion of the “morse”, as seen in the fifteenth century:

One thing I noticed about the ancient descriptions about walruses was that they were described as meat-eaters, who might even chow down on a man. This seemed very different from the modern view, which sees them as practically vegan in their tastes. But I knew they did eat clams, and clams are meat. So, I decided to dig deeper. Did, perchance, they dine on other meats? A crab, perhaps? Or a lobster?

That was when my sidetracking got a bit of a surprise. I discovered certain walruses will eat seals. After all, a walrus weighs two tons, and a small seal is only a hundred pounds. It is easy to see who would win that battle. However, did they only scavenge dead seals, when at the point of starvation? Or did they go out of their way to hunt living seals? And here I got another surprise. Some of the biggest male walruses, with the broadest shoulders, seem to say “to hell with clams”, and prefer seals.

Of course, my skeptical side rears his head, but here is a summary of a paper by two scientists, published back in 1984:

One sentence from the article intreagued me. It was this:

“Our findings from the stomachs indicated that seal eating was 10 to 100 times more common during the 1970’s and early 1980’s (0.6–3.0%, N=645) than it had been in the previous three decades (0.07–0.20%, N=4015).”

This may demonstrate how far trivia leads me afield, and you may ask, “What does that have to do with sea-ice?

The answer is that sea-ice expanded to a high point in 1979. The media was producing sensationist articles about a “Coming Ice Age”, rather than “Global Warming.” And the expansion of sea-ice meant there was less open water for walrus to hunt clams in. It also meant that seals and walrus were crowded together. So what was a poor walrus to do?

Now we come to the crux of the matter. Could a walrus mistake a human for a seal, and attempt to chow down on a man? And, because walrus were equally stressed back when the Medieval Warm Period’s open waters were giving way to the Little Ice Age’s thick ice, (ice which led to Iceland being icebound and ice fairs on the Thames in London), could not the poor walruses become so ferocious that they resembled the “morse” of lore?

Sadly, I couldn’t find a single example of a man-eating walrus on the web. And if you can’t even find it on the web, where you can find many unlikely things, then it likely isn’t worth thinking further about. So I stopped looking, although, as I have explained, trivia has an odd habit of persisting and lurking about in the dimmer recesses of my mind. But I gave it no further thought, until……TODAY!!!

Today I was just lurking around during my spare time (which I have too little of) looking for sanity on sea-ice sites (which there is also too little of) and I visited the zoologist Susan Crawford’s “Polar Bear Science”, to see what the polar bears were up to. It just so happened that she recommended an old video from 1986, “back when science hadn’t become so political.” I thought that might be a refreshing change and sat back to watch.

This video, called “Edge Of Ice” by William Hansen, is about the wildlife of Lancaster Sound, well north of Hudson Bay. Like many nature-documentaries it includes long spells of music where the narrator seems to have fallen asleep, but I didn’t mind because I happen to like views of sea-ice, especially underwater views. But what was especially unique was that it was not merely the narrator talking (where often one feels the narrator has never visited the arctic) but it also included the voice of an actual Inuit, describing how he hunted on the edge of the ice. And this Inuit, in a most offhand manner, casually mentions that one needs to be wary of walrus, for they can eat a man. It is amazing how casual it is; the music doesn’t even pause or become more dramatic; it is as casual as it would have been if he stated “Water freezes when it gets cold.”

If you want to see it for yourself, watch the wonderful video. (Hint: it is towards the end of the first half; and the video is 55 minutes long.)

To conclude, yes, it may be possible Walruses indeed do eat people. Not that I say this with any scientific certainty, but I say it in my mischievous manner, hoping to stimulate discussion. Science is all about discussion, as imagination wages its ceaseless battle with reality. Is such a thing possible? Well, let’s talk about it. Why not? Why censor?

I likely should end with a disclaimer, just in case any walruses are reading this. I am not saying that walruses want to eat us. After all, Great White Sharks don’t want to eat us; it just so happens that a surfer in a black wet suit resembles the seals the Great White Shark wants; apparently we don’t taste all that good, and the shark swiftly spits us out, but alas, by then it is too late. The damage has been done. And perhaps the same is true for walruses. Further research is needed. Please send funding.