Historically, Atlantic walruses (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) were heavily exploited on their wintering grounds in Central West Greenland (CWG; 67º-71º30´N). Walruses in this area are still exploited and the group is thought to be much below historical population size. However, the demographic identity of walruses in CWG remains undetermined. Genetic studies indicate that CWG-walruses have only little exchange with walruses in Northwest and East Greenland. However, a comparison between walruses from Hudson Strait (HS) in Canada) and CWG indicated a source (HS)-sink (CWG) relationship between these areas. During March 2005, satellite tags were deployed on three walruses in CWG. The tags were applied from a distance by use of a CO2-powered gun. Two of the animals remained at the wintering grounds during the life of their transmitters (< 1 month), whereas the third (adult female with calf) transmitted for more than 3 months during which time she moved from CWG west to SE Baffin Island (SE BI). Hence, the studies supported a suspected connection between walruses in CWG and the HS-SE BI area. Future studies include a genetic comparison of biopsies from SE BI and CWG, and deployment of satellite tags on walruses at SE Baffin Island.
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16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 2005