|Official Name||Rockskin Walrus|
|Common Nicknames||Rock Walrus|
|Habitat||Shores across The North Belt|
The Rockskin Walrus is an animal which has been revered by northern fishermen since its first discovery. Over the years, many negligent hunters have underestimated these beasts’ strength and have fallen victim to their sharp tusks. The Walrus has a small part in Velheim stories told to children in hopes to keep them away from the shores they occupy. Despite being a victim to the many brave hunters who manage to take them down, their population has maintained itself in recent years. Many find the Walruses extremely useful due to the amount of ivory, fat, and meat that even one of them can yield.
The first sightings of the Rockskin Walrus can be dated back to the Pre-Cataclysm era when Velheim and escaped Ailor slaves from the Allorn Empire still lived on the coastlines of the North Skags. The animal’s large stature and long tusks brought enough fear to the early Velheimers for them to purposefully avoid the animal for several years. This grace period was broken when Ailor civilization in Nordskag advanced in the aftermath of the Cataclysm, transitioning from small huts to well-maintained villages. The hunters of these first villages found that these Walruses were an easy target once they were singled out from the other Walruses they were grouped up with. Within the first century of Nordskag’s rise, the population of the Rockskin Walrus steeply declined, even though more of their species lived on regions further north such as Jorrhildr and Ellador. Walrus fat was popularized as a source of fuel amongst those who could obtain it. The Rockskin Walruses were continuously hunted until around 150 AC when advanced naval technology provided the Velheimers a method to hunt whales. Because a single large whale could produce more resources than a dozen Walruses, the aggressive hunting of the animal slowed. The population of the Rockskin Walrus began to rise once again and, over time, more herds of these Walruses were found on various shores throughout The North Belt. Today, they can be found in herds of up to one hundred which cover many beaches within the northern regions of Aloria.
The Rockskin Walruses are amongst the largest genus within their species. They can have a length of up to eight to thirteen feet long with the larger males having the capability to reach an impressive length of thirteen feet. On their flippers, the average Rockskin can be as tall as six to seven feet. A maximum weight of six thousand has been recorded so far, but there are rumors of even larger ones. The heads of these Walruses are like most pinnipae, connecting to the body with its neck covered in bulks of fat and tissue. Within its head are the two large eyes, with black irises that cover most of the front of the eye. Interestingly enough, the presence of their orbit socket is absent allowing their eyes to jut out and allow it to see around itself better. Their eyesight is very poor despite the fact they have a lot of mobility with their vision. One of the other features attached to their head are their sharp, ivory tusks. These tusks can extend up to 4 feet in length, which aid the Walrus in feeding and defending itself. Their flippers and tail are as strong as the rest of their body, which give them adequate mobility despite their massive weight. The Rockskin Walrus possesses a unique body armor that comes from the barnacles that stick to their skin. The Rockskin Walruses tend to brush and idly rest against the seafloor which allows barnacles unique to the cold environment an easy way to find a suitable home on the skin of these Walruses. These barnacles seem to find the Rockskin Walrus a fitting host up until their death, to which their skin underneath have typically softened underneath leaving older Walruses more susceptible to damage unless they find more barnacles to adorn their bodies. These barnacles are found in patches which can range in location depending on the Walrus. They will either have a black or white color which mainly depends on where they live. Other than the features which have lead to their name, it has a gray hide with a brown tint which helps give the illusion their outer layer is truly composed of rocks.
Rockskin Walruses lack sexual dimorphism a majority of the time, but males are known to grow on the larger and longer side when compared to females. Also, the species has fewer males than females. As for regional differences, the Rockskin Walruses farther north almost exclusively bear white barnacles instead of the black ones their relatives in Nordskag and Hvitskag have. The white barnacles on these Walruses allow them to blend in more because of the whiter terrain and abundance of snowfall in the area. The barnacles aren’t the only traits which differentiate the Walruses; the Rockskin Walruses up north grow to be larger than their kin in southern regions like Nordskag.
Life Span and Development
The Rockskin Walrus have a unique development cycle like many pinnipeds. A female Walrus will go through a gestation period which lasts for sixteen months before they give birth to live young on the shoreline during the spring season. A Rockskin Walrus pup will stay with its mother for two years before it will be able to provide for itself. These pups look like a smaller version of their adult self without their tusks which will begin to grow when they become one year old. They appear more fuzzy, with a thin layer of hair that gradually grows less obvious as they grow in size. Once they have left their mother, they might remain with their herd or venture out to find a new one to point. Males, in particular, have to stay at the edges of herds to avoid the dominant male. Their tusks do not stop growing until they reach the age of fourteen, though once male Rockskin Walruses’ tusks have grown large enough to compare with other males (around the age of ten) they will then compete against one another to see if they can claim a mate opposed to the competing male. The Rockskin Walrus live a maximum of thirty years, and old Walruses can be found beaching themselves before they perish.
These animals are assertive should they feel threatened, but they will not burden themselves by chasing faster creatures or people. They will only attack should a member of Aloria’s many Races be close enough for it to land a single strike; one wound from their tusksis enough to incapacitate a grown Ailor. While stories within the Velheim culture might state there have been men who have managed to mount these Walruses, it isn’t possible to tame one and the outcome of trying would be fatal. Their diet consists of shellfish and echinoderms as well the occasional fish. They have few to no natural predators, as attempting to pierce their hide can be compared to a hard shell in spots covered by clusters of barnacles.
Territory and Groupings
The Rockskin Walruses are always with another of their species. They can be commonly found in groups simply moving around the same general region on a beach. These groupings of Walruses can be referred to as a herd. Herds of Walruses can range from as little as ten stray Walruses to as many as dozens of them along a sandbar. The males in the species tend compete to claim an area of a few feet of land as their own territory, but that is as far as it goes with the Rockskin Walruses being territorial.
- The tusks of these Walruses are prized by the hunters that live inside of The North Belt. Their composition of ivory is highly valuable which many artisans tend to turn into items such as horns or other decorative objects.
- There is a tale of a Velheim warlord by the name of Hróarr the Tusked who rode into battle during the Ragnvald War on top of a large Rockskin Walrus named Vahndyret. He was said to wear a crown of Walrus tusks and that he’d throw his captured enemies into Walrus herds to leave them to the Walruses’ mercy.
- Despite having fatal results, there is an uncommon sport where Northern men will attempt to have a rodeo with one of these Walruses. It is almost impossible to mount one for even a few seconds, and if you even manage to get on top of one, the rest of the Walruses within a herd will typically crowd and make it difficult to escape.