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B&C World's Record - Atlantic Walrus

World's Record Atlantic Walrus

The world's record Atlantic walrus tusks were generously donated to the National Collection of Heads and Horns. Unfortunately, they were stolen in the 1970s, likely for the ivory's value.

The story surrounding this world’s record cannot be traced further back than the early 1950s. At that time Roy Vail of Warwick, New York, came across a unique find— the tremendous tusks of an Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus). Vail, an importer-exporter of fine hunting supplies, purchased the loose tusks from a G.I. who had brought them back from his tour in Greenland. Having a good eye, Vail sensed that the tusks might measure up as a Boone and Crockett record. And he was right; on January 14, 1955, the trophy became a new world’s record, scoring 118-6/8 points. Vail generously donated these tusks to the National Collection of Heads and Horns.


The immensity of these tusks sparks the imagination. This Atlantic walrus may have measured 12 feet long and weighed more than 3,000 pounds. Tusks like these indicate a superior social rank, providing ample protection during aggressive encounters with rivals and natural predators, such as polar bears and killer whales. While diving for food, the walrus may have used his tusks to stir up clams and other shellfish along the sea bottom and, after resurfacing, as hooks to climb out of the water or to break up an ice floe to create  breathing holes.

Following Vail’s donation, the record tusks became an educational tool, providing insight to this incredible animal’s behavior and an enduring way of life. For thousands of years the walrus has been hunted by the Inuit of Greenland for food and fuel, as well as for making tools, sleds, boats, shelter, and clothing. However, others value the walrus and its ivory tusks merely for their monetary worth. Greed likely led to the theft of these record tusks from the National Collection of Heads and Horns at the Bronx Zoo, New York City, in 1974, shortly before the Club acquired the entire collection in 1978. 



The geographical boundary for Atlantic walrus is basically the Arctic and Atlantic coasts south to Massachusetts. More specifically the Atlantic walrus boundary in Canada extends westward to Mould Bay at Prince Patrick Island; to just east of Cape George Richards at Melville Island; to Taloyoak, Nunavut Province (formerly known as Spence Bay, Northwest Territories); and eastward to include trophies taken in Greenland.



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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt