Freya the 600kg walrus causes a stir in Norway

  • Published
Freya the walrus climbs onto a boat in Frognerkilen bay in Oslo on 20 JulyImage source, Reuters

A young female walrus has chosen Norway's capital Oslo as her holiday destination for 2022.

Onlookers spotted the marine mammal clambering onto boats - which often look like they are about to capsize under her not inconsiderable 600kg (94 stone) heft - to nap in the sun.

Nicknamed Freya after the Norse goddess of love, she has become something of a celebrity in the country.

It is thought this may be the latest European stop-off for the mammal.

According to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Freya was first sighted in the country's northern county of Troms and Finnmark in 2019.

Since then, there have been reported sightings of her in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

It is likely that she has travelled south from the Arctic - where walruses tend to live, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

She caught people's attention in Norway this summer when she was spotted climbing onto boats in the southern coastal town of Kragero in June.

More recently, she made her way to Oslo, where onlookers have been gathering to catch glimpses of her from the city's jetty.

Image source, Getty Images

But her presence has caused concern among some. One kayaker described a "scary encounter" with the animal when it came too close to his vessel, local media reported. Another boy fell into the water near the walrus when he was paddle-boarding and had to be rescued by a jet ski, Norwegian news site Nettavisen said.

Following the incidents, some suggested that the walrus should be moved from the area, or even euthanised.

But after monitoring Freya's movements, Norway's directorate of fisheries released a statement on Monday saying that the mammal is in good condition and can remain where she is.

It did, however, stress that people should keep their distance and be careful when swimming in the sea.

It added that walruses do not usually pose a danger to humans as long as they keep their distance. But if disturbed, they may feel threatened and attack people nearby.

"She... is not necessarily as slow and clumsy as one might think when she is resting," it said.

Walruses are a protected species that tend to spend the summer in icy waters, according to WWF.

But their habitat is changing quickly, with sea ice loss caused by climate change limiting their access to it, it adds.

Related Topics