A Russian Navy boat was sailing with the Russian Geographical Society off the coast of Franz Josef Land when they came too close to a walrus’ calf, prompting the mammal to attack the vessel, wrote Zoe Drewett of Metro, the UK’s highest-circulating newspaper. The sailors on the navy’s tug boat Altai “got into smaller inflatable dinghies to sail to shore,” as the walrus unleashed an attack to protect its baby.
“The boat sank, but a tragedy was avoided thanks to the prompt action taken by the squad leader,” said a statement released by the Geographical Society on September 23. Fortunately, all landing participants were able to reach the shore safely. The Northern Fleet, Russia’s navy, revealed that the group of researchers fled from the raging female walrus.
|Photo Credit: Getty (via Metro)|
However, the Kremlin’s Defense Ministry did not mention anything about the boat sinking. “Serious troubles were avoided thanks to the clear and well-coordinated actions of the Northern Fleet servicemen, who were able to take the boat away from the animals without harming them,” the government department said.
Franz Josef Land is a group of islands situated in the Russian Arctic in the Arctic Ocean. It makes up the northernmost part of Arkhangelsk Oblast. Interestingly, the only people who stay at Franz Josef Land are military personnel. The Barents Observer, a Norwegian-Russian newspaper, reported that the researchers “may have been flying a drone” too close to the walrus, possibly frightening it.
|Photo Credit: Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation (via Metro)|
As explained by Drewett, the expedition aimed to retrace the steps of Julius von Payer, an Austro-Hungarian explorer who discovered Franz Josef Land in 1873. The explorer named it after the Emperor Franz Joseph I. On the other hand, walruses are known for their aggressiveness and their ability to capsize boats. They are also huge, with females weighing over 2,000 pounds.