What’s up the Walrus on a card in my home office asks. Well in the Walrus world what’s up is probably climate change, but this has been temporarily supplanted by the killing of a female named Freya in Oslo harbour this weekend.
Freya had developed something of a following as she wandered round the North Sea last winter and spring. She moved from Holland to Northumberland and on to Shetland then Denmark. Everyone she went she attracted a crowd of mesmerised onlookers.
I didn’t see Freya. Some readers will know that I did however refind another less imaginatively named Walrus dubbed Wally on Out Skerries in 2017. Walking over the crest of a hill and unexpectedly seeing an animal whose travels I had followed on the news and social media was amazing.
The Walrus I saw also appeared in Norway, but as far as we know he left and hopefully headed north. Unlike the last two Walruses to turn up so far south he always hauled out on beaches. And I think that saved him. To be blunt an animal that sinks boats when it rests on them becomes a nuisance.
Some nonsense justifications have been given for the killing of Freya; I use the word killing rather than the soft soaping ‘put down’ deliberately. The suggestion that she was a threat to onlookers is clearly convenient, and the argument that she was stressed insults people’s intelligence.
I would say though that the abuse of the Norwegian people on social media is ridiculous. Shaming people who went to see a rare visitor because of what others then did is not appropriate. We want people to appreciate nature where they live, that isn’t the fundamental issue here.
Those threatening to boycott Norway should ask themselves which animal nirvana they are going to holiday in. Shetland has a thriving eco-tourism industry but I can remember a fisherman clubbing dozens of seal pups to death because they were ‘starving and stressed’. Sound familiar?
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