THE TROUBLE WITH the walrus — apart from the value to men of its hide, tusks, fat and flesh — is that its vision is poor, its sense of hearing and smell are not particularly acute, and it likes to rest on the shore after diving for small marine life in the Arctic sea shallows. All of which makes the walrus extraordinarily easy to approach; sealers, iwith rifles have exterminated entire herds in a single expedition.
This .enormous (up to 2,700 pounds; barrel - shaped seal once ranged as far south as the Gulf of Stq Lawrence, but has long since been pushed back into the Arctic, where half a million walrus have dwindled to about 25,000. In
the eastern Arctic — whose Atlantic race is the more immediately endangered—1,200 of the animals are taken each year. Nobody knows how many are left. The usual walrus herds now comprise dozens rather than thousands. □
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