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B&C World's Record - Pacific Walrus

World's Record Pacific Walrus

Pilot Ralph Young found the World's Record Pacific walrus tusks in 1997 while beachcombing—"Alaska style"—over the shores of Bristol Bay.

In 1997, while searching the shores of Bristol Bay, Alaska, Ralph Young picked up a big-game world’s record—the colossal tusks of a Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). Young, who is Commodore of the Naknek Yacht Club, uses his pilot boat to guide barges en route to salmon canneries located along the interior of Bristol Bay.

As a man of the sea, an avid hunter, and a pilot who uses his plane to beachcomb “Alaska style,” Young has a zest for exploring the Alaskan frontier. He is well aware that the sea deposits many of its treasures in the area, having found Japanese glass ball floats and several walrus and whales over the years. After a particularly strong storm swept the Alaska coast for several days Young found a wealth of debris washed upon the shores, including the record walrus tusks. Here's his account of the find.


“On July 5th, the engine of my Super Cub coughed and soon settled into its normal steady hum over the muddy, salmon-filled waters of Bristol Bay," he said. "The wind was gusty and soon the far shore came into view. The tide had reached its lowest point and a vast expanse of wet mud and sand became dominant. Alaska is said to be twice the size of Texas, but at low tide, Alaska seems three times the size of Texas. Up ahead on the beach, I spotted a gray, oblong form washed up on the sand. As I flew over, two white ivory tusks could be seen against the contrasting sand. There was a small strip of gravel near the high-tide line and the Cub gently alighted on that mark. An axe made removal of the ivory and mask from this mountain of walrus an easy task. Soon the little Cub was up and heading for the area of Cape Constantine. I spotted another giant monarch up ahead, close to some hard-pack sand. After landing, and as I worked to remove the tusks, I noticed they seemed to be thicker than others.”

Aware that the Pacific walrus may not be hunted by non-native people, and may only be possessed in compliance with the 1972 Marine Mammals Protection Act, Young took his find to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and had the tusks sealed and registered. Later, a friend joined Young to determine the true size of the tusks.

“Upon my friend’s arrival, he was excited at the size of the tusks," Young said. "But he said they had to be removed from the skull to determine their true size. We took them down to the boatyard and boiled them. After four hours of boiling water filling the air with a 'unique' scent, the tusks were ready to be removed. Heavy gloves gripped the hot tusks as they were slammed down on a 2x12, which was held in place with a vise, to break them loose. The tape showed each tusk in excess of 36 inches long and nearly 10 inches around at each base.”

Scored at 147-4/8 points, the tusks became a highlight of Young’s years of "Alaska-style" beachcombing.



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-Theodore Roosevelt