Female Walrus Attacks and Sinks Russian Navy Raft on Arctic Expedition

None of the boat's passengers were harmed.
Fabienne Lang

Last week, scientists from the Russian Geographic Society (RGO) aboard a hard inflatable boat had to abort their mission and find a way to safety after a female walrus attacked them. 

The team was making its way to Wilczek Island in the Franz Josef Land Archipelago, located in the Arctic. You'll only find wildlife and Russian military personnel on the island. 


The attack happened as the team was attempting to land on Cape Geller, and probably occurred as this was a mother walrus, potentially trying to protect her cubs. Luckily, all aboard the boat survived.

RGO/Northern Fleet in the Arctic

Combining a mixture of scientific and historical research, the RGO and the Northern Fleet are busy running glacial and biological surveys of the Arctic archipelago. They're also exploring the routes of past Arctic expeditions. 

During the expedition, the researchers found artifacts dating back to the Austro-Hungarian expedition and the first to map the area, back in 1874. Furthermore, the team also recovered details of the 1898-1899 American expedition led by Walter Wellman, who later attempted to fly to the North Pole by airship. 

On top of this, the researchers looked for Russian polar explorer, Georgy Sedov's grave. Sedov died during his expedition to the Pole in 1914.

Female Walrus Attacks and Sinks Russian Navy Raft on Arctic Expedition
Walrus on an ice flow, Franz Josef Land. Source: SeppFriedhuber/iStock

What happened during this mission?

The Altai, a Russian navy tug boat part of their Northern Fleet, sent the inflatable boat to Cape Geller, where the team encountered the mother walrus.

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The crew leader managed to steer the boat near enough to stable land so that everyone could get ashore safely, as per the RGO's news release.

Female Walrus Attacks and Sinks Russian Navy Raft on Arctic Expedition
Walruses in the Arctic. Source: claumoho/Flickr

However, there's a slightly different description offered by the Northern Fleet, who said "A group of researchers had to flee from a female walrus, which, protecting its cubs, attacked an expedition boat. Serious troubles were avoided thanks to the clear and well-coordinated actions of the Northern Fleet servicemen."

Ultimately, it's good news that no one — animal or human — was hurt in this run-in between wildlife and research.