Up close and personal


In my opinion, walruses on land are extremely boring. They just lay there, don’t do anything apart from poking each other every once in a while with their tusks. In the water however, it’s a different story. There they are agile and can be quite quick and curious. What often works well is stand in the water and kick around some pebbles near the beach. Apparently this makes a special kind of noise and this often attracts them closer to the people on the beach.

Often, but not always. On the first day of the cruise I had already tried this, but the Walruses had other things on their mind. For the guests not too bad, they were their first Walruses and then they are always spectacular. On the second last day, we had another chance. There were five walruses swimming along the shores. I quickly stepped in the water and started kicking around stones. Immediately they started swimming towards us. Closer and closer… Normally only one or two show up at the beach, but this time all five came. The biggest male was the obvious leader of the gang, he kept on coming closer. I had put my dSLR with a telelens away and taken out my small, waterproof compact camera out, so I could take pictures from just above (or even below) the waterline. The most curious (and biggest) Walrus eventually came within a meter from me, time to get up and move back a little bit. They might only eat clamps, but I still have respect for those tusks…

They stayed about 15 minutes at very close distance before they decided to move on. Leaving us behind, thrilled by such a close encounter with these magnificent wild animals, leaving us with memory cards full of Walrus pictures and me with a new nickname: the Walrus Whisperer…

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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