A lost walrus became an unlikely passenger aboard a Dutch naval submarine after straying thousands of miles from its home in the Arctic circle.
Amused submariners snapped Freya, the first Walrus to be sighted off the Dutch coast in 23 years, taking a relaxing break on the nose of HNLMS Dolfijn, which was docked in Den Helder.
The marine mammal is thought to have swum down from her regular habitat in the Arctic circle via Denmark and Germany before ending up in Dutch waters.
The submarine’s crew said Freya seemed in good health and joked that she had sought out a “twin” before becoming “friends forever" with the vessel.
HNLMS Dolfijn appropriately belongs to the Walrus class of vessels.
“It looks like they have more in common with this species of seal than we thought,” the Dutch navy said on its Twitter feed.
“Freya the walrus sought out the Dolfijn [dolphin] for a hug.”One video posted on the social media website appeared to show Freya sound asleep as the submarine’s crew watched over their unexpected guest.
The female walrus has been in Dutch waters for at least two months, having previously been spotted near the island of Schiermonnikoog, in the northern Netherlands, and on the Zuiderpier in Harlingen.
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Experts believe she probably got lost looking for food, but are not worried because the animal can often swim great distances by themselves before returning home.
The Pieterburen sea mammal rescue centre said Freya was “well able to look after herself and will find her way home in time if left to her own devices”.
Walrus need to eat five to 10 per cent of their body weight in food every day. “If there wasn’t enough food, she would have left already,” said a spokesman for the rescue centre.
Freya was spotted with a wound on her front flap when she first arrived in the Netherlands. The spokesman added: “It doesn’t seem to have got any worse according to our vets. She seems to be in good condition. It could be that she stays here for a long time.”
In June last year another walrus named Wally caused a nuisance on the Isles of Scilly by popping rubber dinghies with his tusks as he tried to find a spot to rest.
The arctic animal become something of a celebrity since he was first spotted off County Kerry in March 2020, before embarking on a tour of Wales, Cornwall and even France before making his way back to the Cornish coast.