He’s back – Wally the walrus returns to Irish shores after European summer holiday

Sarah Slater

Wally the walrus has returned to Irish shores after spending several weeks on the Scilly Isles.

The walrus started on a rare tour of the coasts of Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall where he was first spotted on Kerry’s Valentia Island last March.

From there, Wally headed south for warmer waters and has been spotted around France, Spain and Wales before spending six weeks on the Cornish coast.

He was seen most recently at the Isles of Scilly before being spotted at Clonea Strand, Co Waterford, on Monday afternoon.

Wally is believed to have originated in Svalbard, north of Norway. Some scientists believe he fell asleep on a floating sheet of ice and found himself very far from home.

While in the Scilly Isles, a purpose-built pontoon was made for the walrus in a bid to reduce damage he had been causing to a number of boats and in a bid to encourage him to leave.

He sank or damaged a number of vessels since arriving in June.

Seal Rescue Ireland (SRI) based in Wexford confirmed the young walrus has returned to Irish waters after completing the European leg of his tour and has been seen off the Co Waterford coast.

However, a spokesperson for the group appealed to the public not to approach him as he is a protected species.

“Please observe quietly from a minimum of 300m and keep dogs on a lead. Do not publicly disclose the location of the sighting to avoid attracting crowds to him.

“Remember that this is a very sensitive species, and he's a very long way from his Arctic home,” they said.

“Report sightings to SRI's 24/7 rescue hotline on 0871955393. We are working with a number of wildlife organisations who have been monitoring his movements since he was first spotted last March, to minimise the risk of stress/injury and in hopes that he will make his way back to his native northern waters.”

As sea ice melts due to climate change, Arctic species, such as walruses, are losing their habitat and may be forced to explore new areas.

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