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wally's woes Expert says making floating ‘sofa’ for Wally the walrus will only prolong problems

The Arctic creature needs to ‘move on’ and people should stay well away from the ‘circus’ surrounding him


Wally taking a timeout on a boat off the coast of Cork in recent days

Wally taking a timeout on a boat off the coast of Cork in recent days

Wally taking a timeout on a boat off the coast of Cork in recent days

Plans for a floating ‘sofa’ for Ireland’s famous new visitor ‘Wally’ the walrus to keep the creature from damaging local boats will only prolong the problem, and he needs to “move on, and move on fast”, a marine expert has said.

Pádraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said despite being christened Wally, we do not know the sex of the Arctic creature, and that there were “a lot of myths and urban legends spreading around this animal”.

“We’re two weeks on from it first arriving on the Waterford coast after it went to Ardmore and then on Clonakilty and Roaringwater bays.

“Everywhere it turns up, it is unfortunately causing a circus. Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, and all other organisations, are at pains to ask that if you are going to watch it, do it from the safety of the shore,” Mr Whooley said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Don’t mill around it on a boat, as that has the potential to disturb this animal. It looks hale and hearty and while we’re hearing it has been injured, that’s what we first heard when it arrived in Wales and when it arrived in France. We’re looking at the images and we’re not seeing any evidence of that.

“It looks to be doing fine on its own and the less interference the better from the public or indeed from organisations that feel compelled to get in and help it along; it’s doing fine on its own and there is no evidence that it will benefit from human protection.

“We don’t want it to be too comfortable. We want to urge it to move on so it can finally start on the track home,” Mr Whooley said.

Mr Whooley said the best tonic to Wally’s destructive side is to encourage him to “move on and move on fast”. He said people in the area should protect their boats as he “seems to sink one or two wherever he goes”.

Another organisation, Seal Rescue Ireland, is reportedly going to put in place a floating pontoon for Wally to rest on, in an effort to keep him off boats. SRI has spoken to conservationists in the Scilly Isles which put one in place when the creature visited their shores.

“If they have expensive engines on them; probably a good idea to remove your engine. Boats are covered by marine insurance and will be covered if they are destroyed. Building pontoons, or a sofa as some are calling it, to keep him in the area is just prolonging the difficulty that boat owners are having,” Mr Whooley said.

Mr Whooley says it’s “extremely unusual” to see a walrus wander so far from the Arctic, with Ireland’s last confirmed walrus visit in 1999, but said it may become more likely in the future.

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