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Rare Walrus Sighting in East Iceland

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Rare Walrus Sighting in East Iceland

Photo: Guðmundur Már Karlsson

A rare walrus sighting took place in East Iceland in Þvottárfjara in Álftafjörður, Austurfrétt reports. Djúpivogur resident Guðmundur Már Karlsson was on a promenade to Hvalnesvita when he decided to go down to the beach where he spotted the animal, which is rare in Iceland.

Walruses were quite common at one point in Iceland, and skeletons can be found all over the country, especially in West Iceland. There are also several place names which allude to walruses such as Rosmhvalanes in Reykjanes peninsula.

“I have never before seen a walrus in such proximity. I expected him to rise up and moo at me or that he would leave if I got close, at least considering what I have read about these animals, but he didn’t”, Guðmundur said.

Guðmundur explained the whole ordeal in detail. “I took close to a thousand photos. The battery on my phone was full when I arrived and empty when I left. I had walked about two kilometres when I walk up a hill and see into the cover. I immediately recognized what it was that was rolling around the tide line. He was in a groove between two rock ridges and was striving to make it up one of the ridges. The walrus took his time to settle himself, to find a comfortable position to lie in, as the rock was sharp and rough. I went down the cove, sat down and watched him. I started at a distance of 50 metres and creeped ever closer. I finally got within two metres from him. He was calm and gentle and didn’t heed to me. I was with him for two hours snapping photos. He raised himself every now and then to see where I was but then continued to sleep. He looked exhausted.”

Guðmundur went back the day after to look for the animal but it was gone. A marine biologist commented that the walrus is likely within three years old, as it is toothless. It is believed it arrived from Greenland.

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