A vagrant walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) in Finland

Henry Pihlström, Antti Halkka, Sanna Sainmaa, Maiju Lanki, Outi Simola, Antti Oksanen, Valdis Pilāts, Eero J. Vesterinen, Pohjoismäki Jaakko, Ari Puolakoski, Janne Granroth, Risto Väinölä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In July 2022, a vagrant female Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) was seen on the south coast of Finland. The same individual, which was called ’Stena’ in the international press, had previously been observed in the waters of several other European countries along the North and Baltic Seas. By the time the animal reached Finnish waters it was in poor condition and did not survive a rescue attempt. Post-mortem investigation revealed that the animal was malnourished and its digestive tract was almost empty, but trace amounts of DNA from bivalves and other aquatic invertebrates could be recovered. However, apart from minor age-related ailment and superficial skin wounds, the walrus showed no obvious signs of illness or injuries. Dental wear suggested that the animal was at least 20 years old. Its body and cranial measurements, including tusk length, were well above the average size for a female Atlantic walrus. Mitochondrial DNA supported its origin in the eastern Barents Sea populations. The specimen was mounted and put on display in the Natural History Museum, Helsinki. This is the first confirmed free-ranging walrus observation in the northern part of the Baltic Sea and Finland.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMemoranda Societatis pro Fauna et Flora Fennica
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology

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