Seal vs. Walrus

What's the Difference?

Seals and walruses are both marine mammals that belong to the same family, but they have distinct differences. Seals are generally smaller in size, with a streamlined body and a sleek coat of fur. They are excellent swimmers and can dive to great depths, relying on their strong flippers to navigate through the water. On the other hand, walruses are much larger and have a more robust body structure. They are known for their long tusks, which are actually elongated canine teeth, and their thick layer of blubber that helps them survive in cold Arctic waters. While seals primarily feed on fish and squid, walruses have a more diverse diet, including clams and other bottom-dwelling organisms. Overall, both species are fascinating creatures with unique adaptations to their marine environments.


Photo by Sand Crain on Unsplash
SpeciesVariousO. rosmarus
HabitatOcean, coastal areasArctic regions
DietPrimarily fishPrimarily mollusks
SizeVaries by speciesUp to 11-12 ft (3.3-3.6 m)
WeightVaries by speciesUp to 3,700 lbs (1,700 kg)
LifespanVaries by speciesUp to 40 years
Photo by Jay Ruzesky on Unsplash

Further Detail


Seals and walruses are fascinating marine mammals that belong to the same scientific order, Pinnipedia. While they share some similarities, they also possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of seals and walruses, including their physical appearance, habitat, diet, behavior, and conservation status.

Physical Appearance

Seals and walruses have distinct physical features that differentiate them from each other. Seals typically have streamlined bodies with a sleek, torpedo-like shape. They have short front flippers and long hind flippers, which allow them to swim gracefully through the water. Seals also have a small, rounded head with large, expressive eyes.

On the other hand, walruses have a more robust and bulky appearance. They have a thick layer of blubber that helps them stay warm in cold Arctic waters. Walruses possess long, ivory tusks, which are elongated canine teeth that can grow up to three feet in length. These tusks are primarily used for defense, dominance displays, and helping them haul themselves out of the water onto ice floes.

In terms of size, walruses are generally larger than seals. Adult male walruses can weigh up to 3,700 pounds and reach lengths of 10-12 feet, while adult male seals usually weigh between 300-600 pounds and measure around 6-8 feet in length.


Seals and walruses inhabit different regions of the world, although they both rely on the ocean for their survival. Seals are found in various locations, including the Arctic, Antarctic, and temperate coastal areas. They often prefer icy environments and can be seen resting on ice floes or rocky shores.

On the other hand, walruses are primarily found in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They are well-adapted to living in cold, icy waters and are often seen near the edge of sea ice. Walruses also spend a significant amount of time on land, hauling themselves onto ice floes or rocky beaches to rest and breed.

Both seals and walruses are highly adapted to their aquatic habitats, with streamlined bodies and specialized flippers that enable them to swim efficiently and dive to great depths in search of food.


When it comes to their diet, seals and walruses have slightly different preferences. Seals are primarily carnivorous and feed on a variety of marine organisms, including fish, squid, crustaceans, and occasionally even other seals. They are skilled hunters and use their sharp teeth to catch and tear apart their prey underwater.

Walruses, on the other hand, have a more specialized diet. They are known to be bottom feeders, using their sensitive whiskers to locate and extract mollusks, such as clams and mussels, from the ocean floor. Walruses also consume other invertebrates, such as worms and sea cucumbers. Their powerful suction abilities allow them to suck the soft parts of their prey out of their shells.

It's important to note that both seals and walruses play crucial roles in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems through their feeding habits, contributing to the overall health and diversity of the oceans.


Seals and walruses exhibit different behaviors, reflecting their unique adaptations and social structures. Seals are generally more solitary animals, although they can form small groups called colonies during breeding seasons. They are known for their agility in the water, using their flippers to swim, dive, and navigate through the ocean. Seals are also skilled at hauling themselves onto land or ice to rest and give birth.

Walruses, on the other hand, are highly social creatures and often gather in large herds, known as haulouts. These haulouts can consist of hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Walruses use vocalizations, such as bell-like calls and grunts, to communicate with each other. They are also known for their unique behavior of "tusking," where males engage in tusk-to-tusk combat to establish dominance within the herd.

Both seals and walruses are well-adapted to their environments and display fascinating behaviors that have evolved over time to ensure their survival in often harsh and challenging conditions.

Conservation Status

Seals and walruses face various conservation challenges due to factors such as climate change, habitat loss, hunting, and pollution. Several seal species, including the Hawaiian monk seal and Mediterranean monk seal, are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These seals are threatened by human activities, entanglement in fishing gear, and habitat degradation.

Walruses, particularly the Pacific walrus, are also experiencing population declines. Loss of sea ice, which is crucial for their resting and breeding behaviors, poses a significant threat to their survival. Additionally, walruses are vulnerable to disturbances caused by human activities, such as shipping, oil exploration, and noise pollution.

Efforts are being made to protect and conserve both seals and walruses through various conservation initiatives, including the establishment of protected areas, regulations on hunting and fishing practices, and raising awareness about the importance of these species in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.


In conclusion, seals and walruses are remarkable marine mammals with unique attributes that distinguish them from each other. While seals have a sleeker body, smaller size, and a more solitary nature, walruses possess a robust physique, large tusks, and a highly social behavior. Both species are well-adapted to their aquatic habitats and play vital roles in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems. However, they face conservation challenges that require our attention and efforts to ensure their long-term survival. By understanding and appreciating the attributes of seals and walruses, we can foster a greater appreciation for these incredible creatures and work towards their conservation and protection.

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