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Researchers will collect scientific data from Freya

freya i frognerkilen

The walrus – here at Frognerkilen, Oslo

Photo: Rune Frøyland / Naturens Mangfold As

Data from the autopsy of the walrus could provide valuable information about the animal, for example about its diet.

Each year, the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) takes samples of large quantities of fish and marine animals, on scientific cruises, in the field and in the lab. Measurements such as weight, length, age, and other information provide the researchers with information about living conditions, population composition and environmental condition in the marine ecosystems. The institute also receives samples from the fisheries and from particularly interesting individual catches.

As a matter of course, the researchers will also receive data after the autopsy of Freya the walrus. The autopsy is carried out by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute on behalf of the IMR. 

The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries is the responsible authority. Read more about the euthanasia decision on their website.

IMR has given advice

The Institute of Marine Research (IMR) is a management support institute and has given advice in this case, including participating in discussions about a possible relocation of the walrus.

On 29 July 2022, IMR, the Directorate of Fisheries' Maritime Service and a veterinarian from Kristiansand Zoo discussed the possible alternatives.

Anesthetizing the walrus (without physical control of the animal) near water was advised against by the veterinarians. The walrus would then most likely have sought safety in the water and drowned after the anesthetic took effect.

Another possibility that was discussed was to place a net under a boat near the walrus' location and try to catch it and hoist it up in the net. This would also entail a relatively high risk, as the walrus could easily become entangled in the net and panic and drown.

The plan that was outlined as a possible solution was to build a strong cage with an open top, where only the sides of the cage would protrude slightly above the surface of the water. This cage would be placed partly underneath the boat where the walrus was resting. When ready to enter the water, the animal would jump right into the cage, which immediately would be floated and the cage with the animal could be hoisted on board the transport vessel and served as a transport cage during the entire transport. If necessary, sedatives could be administered during the transport to prevent unnecessary stress or other complications. 

This solution was considered the gentlest toward the animal, because there would be little chance of the animal getting stuck under water or damaging the device. The walrus could then have been transported in this cage.

IMR did not recommended a solution, but has contributed to a professional assessment of various alternatives for a possible relocation of the walrus. The outlined alternative with a cage was considered the gentlest solution if one were to attempt to relocate the animal. It is the Directorate of Fisheries, as the responsible authority, that has taken decisions in the matter. Read more on their website.