Global Range: Genus Odobenus has a discontinuous distribution throughout arctic waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Atlantic walruses range from Foxe Basin, Hudson Bay, James Bay, and Labrador in the eastern Canadian Arctic to Greenland and east to Kara Sea and Franz Josef Land. Pacific walruses are found in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering Seas. A population found in the Laptev Sea in the central Russian Arctic, generally considered to be Pacific walrus, is thought by some Russian researchers to be a separate subspecies entirely: O. r. laptevi.
In winter, Pacific walruses occur in the Bering Sea, mainly between eastern Bristol Bay and an area southwest of St. Lawrence Island, and in the Gulf of Anadyr. In summer, most females and young occur in the Chukchi Sea (Point Barrow west to the mouth of the Kolyma River on the East Siberian Sea) and around the Diomede Islands, King Island, and Arakamchechen Island. When summer ice is light, large numbers haul out on shores of Wrangel and Herald islands and at traditional sites along the northern Chukchi Peninsula; in years of heavy summer ice, they generally remain associated with sea ice and do not come ashore in large numbers. During the southward fall migration, large groups haul out at Big Diomede Island and the Punuk Islands and at some coastal sites on the Siberian mainland. In summer, most males are found in the Bering Sea; many (at least 12,000) males summer on or near Round Island, in northern Bristol Bay, and another several thousand summer in the Gulf of Anadyr and in the Bering Strait (Reeves et al. 1992).
Historical Atlantic range included the Kara, Barents, and White seas and the shores of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, and Bear Island; populations are still widespread but now are much smaller. Some still migrate through Karskye Vorota Strait between winter range in southeastern Barents Sea and summer range in the Kara Sea. Formerly occurred in large numbers south to Sable Island (off Nova Scotia) and the Magdalen Islands (Gulf of St. Lawrence) but extirpated south of Labrador by early 1900s. Centers of abundance are Hudson Strait, northern Hudson Bay, northern Foxe Basin, and along portions of the coasts of Greenland, Devon Island, Ellesmere Island, and Baffin Island; relatively large numbers occur in Smith Sound, Jones Sound, and their adjacent channels and embayments. From fall to late spring, a few hundred are present off central west Greenland in the Davis Strait pack ice; some winter in high arctic polynyas such as the North Water, Hell-Gate-Cardigan Strait, and Penny Strait-Queen's Channel, but there is also a northward migration in Davis Strait and Baffin Bay and a westward migration through Lancaster Sound during spring breakup (Reeves et al. 1992).
Laptev walruses occur mainly in the Laptev Sea, the eastern Kara Sea, and the western East Siberian Sea (Reeves et al. 1992).