Published On: Wed, Sep 25th, 2019

Science news: Deadly Walrus attack sinks Russian navy ship during Arctic expedition | Science | News

The naval ship was attacked and possibly sunk by a walrus during a scientific expedition in the Arctic. The sailors from the Northern Fleet were taking part in a joint mission with the Russian Geographical Society in Franz Josef Land.

The Archipelago sits just 900km south of the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean which is controlled by Russia.

As a group from the expedition attempted to land at Cape Heller in the territory in an inflatable boat, they were attacked by a female walrus.

A statement released by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation explained the ordeal that unfolded.

It said: “During the landing at Cape Geller, 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, who were able to take the boat away from the animals without harming them.”

“The boat sank, but a tragedy was avoided thanks to the prompt action by the squad leader.

“All landing participants safely reached the shore.”

The expedition looked to retrace the steps of polar explorers from over a century ago who first tried to map out the desolate and freezing archipelago.

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The Society also said the expedition was faced with navigating around loose lakes of ice and icebergs that have recently been driven to the shore and narrow straits between islands.

The main Russian naval vessel, the Altai rescue tugboat from which the smaller rubber boat attacked by the walrus departed from, remains in the Arctic with the scientists and sailors as they continue their expedition.

The ship attempted to follow the path of the Austro-Hungarian expedition of 1874, in which the participants recorded the main geographical points described by Julius Payer in his book “725 days in the ice of the Arctic”.

The route intended to locate the traces of the possible burial of the Russian polar explorer Goergy Sedov, who died during the great storm of the north pole in 1914.

Researchers had expected to have an animal-free trip given the time of year, yet encountered several Walrus on arriving.

Scientists made the miles-long trip in order to make glaciological observations, as well as record the conditions and progressions of flora and fauna in the region.

The only humans staying on the land of the archipelago are military personnel.

Norwegian-Russian newspaper, The Barents Observer, reported an observation that speculated the researchers may have been flying a drone too close to the shore.

The newspaper said this could have spooked the female walrus into a fit of anxiety, leading to her protecting her cubs.

Walrus are notorious for their quick temper and aggression, and ability to capsize boats is well documented.

The beasts are huge – an average female weighs around 2,000lbs, around twice as much as a grand piano.

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