Swimming up to the walrus didn't seem like such a bad idea. Clumsily approach an unruly marine mammal with flesh piercing tusks and bad temper. What could possibly go wrong.
I put on my drysuit, played the tough guy and went out to go hang with the big boys. But when the first bulbous and whiskered head popped up between my legs, I started having second thoughts. When he head-butted my camera, I was in full retreat, and wanted very badly to be somewhere else. Not that you do anything quickly in a drysuit, fins and mask. I swam in reverse and then thumped the walrus on the snout. He thumped back, much harder this time.
The walrus seem to be thinking, "So you like the rough stuff, eh..."
Every time I slapped my flippers swimming back to the boat, they swam up to investigate, checking out the fins and the wild-eyed mouth breather at the opposite end. Then they said something that sounded like "You want another piece of this?" before whacking me with another tusk.
The guys on the boat found it endlessly diverting and good for pictures. I was pretty much ready to call my mom on the satellite phone to come take me home, but they seemed happy for me to stay out there all morning.
With friends like these...
August 2, 2009 - Prins Karls Forland, Svalbard