Splash-time with Buddy

Audun Rikardsen's Image

Audun developed a firm friendship with this young male walrus, nicknamed Buddy, who spent several months hanging around the beach outside Tromsø.

Audun would often join it in the water to play. ‘I could tell whether it was having fun, teasing me, splashing water at my face and talking to me, or whether it was grumpy,’ he says. Despite their thick, bristly appearance, a walrus’s whiskers are incredibly sensitive. They use them to search for their main prey of clams on the sea floor. After clearing the soft substrate away with their flippers, they suck the clams out of their shells, sometimes consuming thousands in a single sitting.

Behind the lens

Audun Rikardsen

Audun Rikardsen


Audun is a photographer and full-time professor of biology at the Arctic University of Norway. Growing up in a small fishing community in northern Norway, he developed a lifelong fascination with the Arctic's rough landscape, culture and wildlife, both above and below the ocean's surface. He uses his fieldwork photography to inspire his students and to draw attention to the science.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • 8-15mm f4 lens at 15mm
  • 1/160 sec at f10  •   ISO 2500  •   Canon 600 flash
  • Tromsø, Norway
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

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