Freya became a sensation on social media this summer, Ron I, who studies biology at Southeastern Norway University and runs a Google Map to see Freya, told CNN. The young walrus was spending time in the Oslo Fjord, a bay on the southeast coast of the country, and was apparently unafraid of humans, unlike most walruses. Several popular videos show a walrus climbing on small boats to sunbathe.
Last week, the department warned the public to stay away from Freya, saying they had seen visitors swimming with Freya, throwing objects at her, and getting dangerously close to her to take pictures. “The current recommendation to keep a clear distance from walruses has been ignored by the public,” Nadia El-Gedini, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate, told CNN in an email.
Previously, the directorate told CNN it was studying multiple solutions, including moving Freya out of the fjord. “The great complexity of such an operation led us to conclude that this was not a viable option,” Buck-Jensen said in the press release.
“We sympathize with the fact that the decision could cause reactions in the public, but I am firm that this was the right call,” Buck-Jensen continued. “We have great respect for animal welfare, but human life and safety should be the priority.” The directorate included a photo of an apparently large crowd a few meters away from Freya in its release.
Marine mammals are usually wary of humans and stay on the outer edges of the coast of Norway. Aae, a professor of biology who tracks Freya’s sightings, said the last time a southernmost walrus was documented in the North Sea was in 2013. “This is not at all common,” he said — leading to throngs of Norwegians to see Freya.
“Normally, walruses appear on some islands, but they will leave soon, because they are afraid of people,” Aae said.
But he said Freya is “not afraid of people”. “Actually, I think she loves people. That’s why she won’t leave.”
Freya wrote: “Sooner or later Freya will come out of the Oslofjord, which all previous experiences have shown, so euthanasia, in my view, was completely unnecessary.”
“what a shame!”