The Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has urged ‘walrus-watchers’ along Ireland’s southern coast to observe ‘Wally the Walrus’ from a distance.
The Arctic walrus was first spotted in Ireland off the coast of Valentia Island in March, and following sightings along the coast of Western Europe has recently returned to the southern coast of Ireland.
Mr Noonan said “While it’s understandable that many people are excited about the presence of a walrus on the Irish coast, we must remember that this is a wild animal and it should be respected”.
The juvenile walrus has left a trail of destruction in his wake – after hauling himself onto several small boats to rest, causing thousands of euro worth of damage and sinking at least two. Seal Rescue Ireland are hoping to provide a an unused rib or a large pontoon that could be used as a designated haul-out site for him to rest.
Wally is expected to continue cruising north, along Kerry and then up the western seaboard. SRI has appealed to people to report any sightings of him to SRI’s 24/7 hotline at 087 195 5393 and to not share the location publicly until a designated haul-out site for him is established. They have also appealed to recreational and ecotour boat operators to stay between 100-500m away from the animal.
The walrus, normally found in Arctic seas, has travelled an estimated 4,000km along the coast of western Europe over the past four months. Experts don’t know why he arrived off Valentia in March but say factors could include climate change.