Walruses going astray | Polarjournal
The walrus Freya has caused some trouble in the port of Oslo and created some damage under its weight of 600-700 kilos. (Photo: Tor Erik Schröder)

While we are concerned about the animals of the Arctic in view of the ongoing climate warming, there are also extraordinary reports of ” runaways “. One of these is a young walrus named Freya. Freya has been roaming for quite some time. Walruses normally prefer the Arctic, but Freya prefers to live further south. After her passage through the Dutch Wadden Sea in October 2021, which attracted a lot of media attention, and excursions to Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom, she arrived in Norway in June.

The extraordinary path taken by the walrus Freya surprises even experts. (Image: Screenshot)

When looking for places to rest, Freya is not very picky. While the Dutch Royal Navy submarine was stable enough for the walrus to bask, Freya’s habit of lying on ships rather than ice floes is causing problems. Major damage is reported from Norway. The boats Freya prefers are usually too small. Numerous boats have been damaged and several have sunk under the 600-700 kg walrus. Insurance claims have already been made for the “vandalism”.

Freya on an extraordinary resting place under observation of the Dutch Royal Navy. Freya is not picky, this time it is a submarine. (Photo: Bert de Groot)

Walrus Freya in Oslo

In the last few days, Freya has caused quite a stir in the Norwegian capital Oslo. On Monday, the walrus blocked a rower who tried in vain to chase the animal away with a garden hose. On Tuesday, the local police came into action. Harbor police tried to chase Freya off a boat with a large water hose. Swimmers are advised to get out of the water if they see Freya. Not because she is aggressive toward people, but because she may want to play and pull swimmers under water.

Let’s hope for the best. Some boat owners have already reported in the social media and registered some damages. (Photo: De Standaard)

Frustrated boat owners are making it clear in local and international media that they wish the animal would disappear. But it would also be better for the welfare of the walrus itself if it moved on.

In the meantime, scientists have devised a plan to restore peace between walrus and man. They want to teach Freya to lie down on a floating platform attached to a ship. Once it gets used to its new place, they will tow the walrus to the northern Norwegian coast.

“Stena”, as the Finnish walrus was called, laid down to rest on the beach of Hamina. Unlike Freya, it was a full-grown walrus. (Photo: YLE News)

Walrus “Stena” also causes a stir in Finland

The Finnish coastal town of Hamina also received a very unusual visit from a walrus. The intruder laid down to rest on a beach before returning to the water by itself on Friday. The walrus was doused with water by rescuers to keep it from drying out. The walrus was found among rowboats along the coast of Salmenvirta. In addition to curious onlookers, the stranded walrus also attracted the attention of experts.

Minna Harju, a Hamina resident, said she and a colleague watched as the walrus crawled onto the beach around 10 am on Friday and it felt like they were watching a nature program on TV. (Photo: Poliisi Kaakko)

Markus Dernjatin, curator of the Sea Life aquarium in Helsinki, said he couldn’t believe the news when he first heard about the stranded walrus, echoing other experts’ opinions about the extremely rare situation.

Dernjatin said wildlife such as whales and even a sea turtle have been spotted along the Finnish coast, but this was the first time he had heard of a walrus in the area.

He said the animal was likely the same one seen elsewhere on the Baltic coast, adding that it was possible the walrus had swum hundreds of miles and then got lost.

Walruses normally live in extreme northern areas such as the Arctic Ocean and the Barents Sea.

“A walrus was spotted in Ireland in the spring and on the coast of Poland a week ago. There are always single animals that stray from time to time. They go through the Danish Straits. They are usually young individuals, but it is difficult to say why they migrate,” Dernjatin said.

A rescue vehicle parked by the walrus for transport to Korkeasaari Wildlife Hospital. However, the walrus did not survive the transport. (Photo: Juha Metso)

Sad outcome

The attempt to save the walrus failed. At the Korkeasaari Wildlife Hospital, the walrus was to be nursed back to health. However, the weakened animal died during the 130-kilometer transport. “The walrus was already in poor condition during the day, very still, not moving much and breathing quite heavily,” said Nina Trontti, director of animal care and conservation at Korkeasaari Zoo.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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