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Do you remember when the Walrus came to Norfolk?

PUBLISHED: 16:53 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:21 09 July 2019

A walrus , hundreds of miles further south than it's normal habitat off Greenland, rests beside the River Ouse  at Denver Sluice in Sept 1981.

A walrus , hundreds of miles further south than it's normal habitat off Greenland, rests beside the River Ouse at Denver Sluice in Sept 1981.

Archant

A walrus hit the headlines when it took a wrong turn and ended up in the River Ouse.

A walrus , hundreds of miles further south than it's normal habitat off Greenland, rests beside the River Ouse  at Denver Sluice in Sept 1981.A walrus , hundreds of miles further south than it's normal habitat off Greenland, rests beside the River Ouse at Denver Sluice in Sept 1981.

The sea creature turned up at Salters Lode, near Downham Market, in September 1981.

Mystery surrounds how the animal ended up hundreds of miles further south than its normal habitat off Greenland.

Volunteers gathered carrying a net to capture the walrus and a Sea King helicopter from RAF Coltishall and the RSPCA were brought in to help in the operation.

Photographer John Hocknell, who worked at the EDP from 1970 to 2004, was there with his cameras as the hunt got under way.

Mr Ted Claydon (left) and Mr Ted Bunting, who spotted the walrus and had it follow them up the Wash into the OuseMr Ted Claydon (left) and Mr Ted Bunting, who spotted the walrus and had it follow them up the Wash into the Ouse

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"A fisherman friend of mine rang me the day before to say a walrus had followed his boat up the river so after hearing that I spoke with my boss at the time about these reports and went about pursuing it," he said. 
"When I went to check it out there were some animal rescue people there with this net they were trying to catch the thing with, it was quite comical actually.
"They all went dashing down the bank with this net in an effort to restrain it but were unsuccessful on the first try, it just slid back into the river and headed downstream.

"I was expecting to get down there and see this large tusk type creature but instead it was quite small, must have been a young walrus."

Half the capture party ended up in mud and water as the walrus slipped away and headed towards King's Lynn.

It was later found stranded on the Chapel St. Leonard's shore in Lincolnshire and returned to the sea.

Mr Hocknell said: "It became quite a celebrity at the time, it was a three day wonder and I remember a national newspaper at the time set up a fund to raise money for it to be airlifted back to where it came from.
"It was definitely worth a pint or two in the pub but it was still the case of trying to convince people I had seen this walrus in the River Ouse, they just found it so hard to believe.

"In the 33 years I was at the EDP it was certainly one of the most interesting stories I've worked on."

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