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Walrus in Holland

Nowadays, walrus seldomly wander into the North Sea. They used to be quite common there, but were supposedly elbowed out by modern humanity some 2000 years ago.

All in all, there just eight walrus visits to the Dutch coast have been recorded. Most of those walrus were healthy males. Our last visitor, nicknamed "Gompie" (the name of a walrus puppet in an old Dutch television series), arrived on 21 January 1998. This perfectly fit crowd pleaser left the next day, heading north.

I've listed all walrus observations so far in the table at the bottom of this column.




In 1926, a wandering male walrus was seen near the Shetlands, from where it swam to the south coast of Norway. During 11-14 November, it visited Den Helder, Holland, and was photographed (above) by the Dutch biologist R
The animal was spotted next near Denmark, but driven away by rifle-shots, as it had been everywhere else. It was finally "collected" by the Swedish and is now, probably stuffed, in possesion of the Natural History Museum, Göteborg.

Walrus observations in the Netherlands
1520-1521 The famous painter ALBRECHT DÜRER draws a walrus caught "in die niderlendischen See" (WEBER).
1761 HOUTUYN mentions the catch of a young walrus in the Dutch Zuiderzee.
1926         Male walrus near Den Helder. Photographed by REDEKE (IJSSELING EN SCHEYGROND).
1979 Sparsely documented observation of a walrus swimming in the Marsdiep.
1981 Terschelling and Ameland. Kept in a nursery for seals and finally released near Helgoland.
1982 Texel (CADÉE) and Den Helder.
1998 Ameland. Healthy male.
Important information was courteously supplied by Gerbrand Gaaff at Ecomare.