Freya, a young female walrus weighing 600 kg, became a summer sensation in Norway, for having fun in the Oslo fjord and ending up wreaking havoc on boats. After visiting the UK, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, Freya decided to spend part of the summer in Norway. There, she became the talk of the season, boarding tour boats in Kragerø, an idyllic southern coastal town. And she’s been doing the same in the capital’s waters since July 17.
The presence of mammals that normally live in latitudes further north of the Arctic aroused the curiosity of the local population and drew the attention of the press. The local newspaper Verdens Gang even started to broadcast live, on its website, some moments of Freya’s life.
Between two big siestas – a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day – Freya has been filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan or, in most cases, dozing off in boats that sink under her weight.
“The material damage is a shame, but that’s what happens with the presence of wild animals,” explained a director of the Department of Fisheries, Rolf Harald Jensen, in an interview with TV2, showing an inflatable boat victim of the animal’s weight.
After considering the possibility of relocating Freya, or even sacrificing her if she posed a danger to the population, the Norwegian authorities decided to let nature take its course.
“She is doing well, eating, resting and appears to be in good condition,” Pesca’s management said in a statement released on Monday.
The authorities insist, however, on the need to keep their distance and advise against swimming, or kayaking, near Freya, “which is not necessarily as peaceful as you can imagine when she is resting”.
“A walrus does not normally pose a danger to humans as long as we keep a safe distance. But if it is disturbed and cannot get enough rest, it can feel threatened and attack,” they note.
A protected species, the walrus feeds mainly on invertebrates such as molluscs, shrimp, crabs and small fish. Their average adult weight is about a ton for a male and 700 kilograms for a female.