Britons are keeping their eye out for a walrus that has twice been spotted in the British Isles after ‘falling asleep on a drifting iceberg’.
The Arctic beast has not been seen since yesterday morning – when it was relaxing on a rock in Wales – six days after it was first seen in Ireland.
Experts believe the animal may have dozed off on a block of ice and drifted across the ocean.
The walrus is described as ‘about the size of a cow’ and was first spotted on rocks in County Kerry on March 15.
The RSPCA were called out to check on the creature – which is ‘underweight’ – at the bottom of a cliff near Broad Haven South beach in Pembrokeshire six days later.
But it has vanished again, prompting countless locals to fondly call it ‘Wally’, in a reference to the children’s puzzle book series Where’s Wally?
Britons have their fingers crossed the creature is all right amid a spate of high-profile deaths of marine animals in the UK.
Just yesterday, Freddie the seal – who was attacked by a dog on the banks of the Thames – was put down by vets who said it was ‘the only ethical and fair option’.
An Arctic walrus has been spotted off the coast of South Wales six days after the same creature was seen in Ireland
The RSPCA was called out on Friday to check on the welfare of the walrus, which had appeared on the Pembrokeshire coastline
Rumours about how the walrus made its way from the Arctic to Ireland have been swirling since the sightings.
Some claim that it fell asleep on an iceberg and ended up drifting across the Atlantic.
Welsh Marine Life Rescue’s Cleopatra Browne was called to the Pembrokeshire coast to investigate the sighting, and found the walrus ‘sat there, chilling’.
She said ‘it was about the size of a cow’ adding: ‘I’ve seen them on telly and the news but it was huge.’
She told BBC News: ‘There is a tale going around that it fell asleep on an iceberg and ended up drifting across and woke up in Ireland – and then ended up in Wales on the way home.’
Countless Twitter users rushed online to dub the creature Wally the Walrus – with Ms Browne saying it is ‘Wally by name, Wally by nature’.
Others said Wally can replace Fungie the Dolphin, who got separated from other dolphins and lived in close contact with humans in Dingle, Ireland.
The dolphin went missing in October 2020 and is feared dead.
Countless Twitter users rushed online to dub the creature Wally the Walrus – with Ms Browne saying it is ‘Wally by name, Wally by nature’
RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West told Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday said the creature is still an ‘it’ as rescue officers couldn’t determine its gender before it swam off again.
She said: ‘At the moment it is an ‘it’ I’m afraid. A very unusual call that I received from our colleagues that we work closely with at Welsh Marine Life rescue.’
‘Whilst it is a very unusual sight […] it is quite a sad occurrence because we have to remember that this walrus is a very, very long way from where he should be.
‘We’re talking about a wild animal that’s still very mobile. He’s very big, we’re talking about much bigger than our normal seals. This one, although he’s of a large size he is a bit underweight.
‘At the moment we don’t know where he is, he swam away.’
The walrus seemed to be in a generally good condition, although it appeared to have a few scrapes and was seen swimming well.
Ms West added: ‘It seems this Arctic walrus has swum over to Wales and was resting on rocks when I went to check on him.
The walrus seemed to be in a generally good condition, although it appeared to have a few scrapes, and was seen swimming well. Geoff Edmond, RSPCA national wildlife coordinator called Friday ‘a landmark day for the RSPCA’s wildlife team’
‘He was resting and, although appearing slightly underweight, thankfully he wasn’t displaying any signs of sickness or injury.
‘This is an incredibly rare sighting and these big, beautiful animals never usually venture so far south.
‘This juvenile walrus has likely travelled down this way in search of food.’
Geoff Edmond, RSPCA national wildlife coordinator called Friday ‘a landmark day for the RSPCA’s wildlife team.’
He said: ‘While we’ve been rescuing animals and responding to welfare calls for almost 200 years, I believe this is our first ever walrus call.
‘I will certainly never forget this day’, Ms West said. ‘In fact it’s still sinking in that I’ve been monitoring a walrus on the Pembrokeshire coast, it’s been absolutely amazing.’
Ms West told the public if they spot the walrus to keep their distance and not to approach the animal – which ‘needs to rest and conserve its energy.’
‘We’re pleased he seems well but, if anyone spots him in this area or elsewhere and has concerns about his welfare, we’d ask them to call our emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group tweeted on Sunday the walrus had been identified as the same creature seen in Ireland on Monday thanks to the white markings on its left flipper as well as the length of its tusks.
The sighting was the first time one of the animals had been seen in Ireland since 2004.
The enormous animal was captured on video as it floundered on the rocks of Valentia Island, County Kerry.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group tweeted on Sunday that the walrus had been identified as the same creature seen in Ireland on Monday thanks to the white markings on its left flipper as well as the length of its tusks
The animal was captured on video as it floundered on the rocks of Valentia Island, County Kerry, yesterday
Observers said the two-metre beast looked visibly exhausted, however in its tweet on Sunday the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said this did not seem to be the case as it had travelled 450km in six days to reach Wales.
It is possible the walrus, which is thought to be a young adult, arrived in Ireland after falling asleep on an iceberg that drifted south across the Atlantic from Greenland.
Dr Peter Richardson, head of ocean recovery at the Marine Conservation Society, told MailOnline: ‘It’s very unusual for one of these walruses to be this far south.
‘It’s a long way from home but it seems like a fit, fat, young walrus which may be capable of making it home.
‘They are known to travel vast distances but it’s so unusual [for one to be this far south] that it’s hard to say how it will be.’
What are Arctic walruses?
Adult walruses can weigh up to 1,900 kg (4,000 lbs).
The vast animals are longer than 2 metres (6.5ft) and can reach 3.6m (12 ft) long.
They are a vulnerable species and have long tusks which they use to find food, often scallops. Tusks are often used in fights between the animals.
Both the males and female have tusks.
They are related to sea lions and seals, but are far more vast.
They are find in the wild in the northern parts of the world, specifically around the North Pole, northern Russia and Greenland.
He added there are plenty of molluscs for the walrus to feed on in the area it was spotted.
Arctic walruses normally live around the North Pole, northern Russia and Greenland. The nearest population to the UK and Ireland lives in the waters of Greenland and Svalbard.
Tom Arnbom, a senior advisor to WWF on the Arctic, told the BBC the walrus may have ventured outside his normal home to look for new breeding grounds.
He said: ‘Often it is adolescent animals that venture on long trips to find new areas to breed.
‘Sooner or later they have to come to the shallows, i.e. less than 100-200 metres depth, to feed on mussels or clams. They eat up to several thousand clams a day.
‘It is lost while it is far from any friends, but I am not afraid that it will die.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin group (IWDG) estimated the walrus to be a young adult but it is not possible to determine the gender as both males and females have tusks.
Its tusks are only around 12 inches long, and a fully grown adult’s tusks can reach up to 40 inches long.
The IWDG wrote on social media this was only the third validated sighting of a walrus in Ireland since 1999.
It said: ‘The National Biodiversity Data Centre has 11 walrus records but the Natural History Museum suggest this number may be as high as 20 going back over several centuries. Either way, walrus sightings here are extremely rare.
‘Previous walrus sightings validated by IWDG are from April 3, 1999, near Old Head, Clew Bay, Co Mayo, and October 5, 2004, from Mulranny, also in Clew Bay.
‘In mid-February, a walrus was photographed off the Danish coast and comparisons of images leave open the possibility that they may be the same individual.’
The walrus was spotted in Ireland by Alan Houlihan and his five-year-old daughter Muireann. Houlihan captured footage of the animal on his phone.
The walrus was spotted by Alan Houlihan and his five-year-old daughter Muireann (pictured). Mr Houlihan captured footage of the animal on his phone
Video was shared online which was taken by local woman Ashley Quigley and the animal was also reported to the authorities. Exactly how the animal arrived in Ireland remains unknown but experts say the two-metre long, cow-sized beast looked visibly exhausted
Other video was shared online and the animal’s presence was reported to the authorities.
Houlihan told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland he and his daughter were walking down by the beach when Muireann spotted something in the water.
He said: ‘I thought it was a seal at first and we went down to the water to investigate and I took out the phone and started recording.
‘Next thing it was a walrus! And he breached out of the water and gave us a little show on the rocks — Muireann thought he was just having fun. It was just amazing.
‘At first I didn’t [know it was a walrus] but within seconds I knew it was a walrus. It’s just the sheer size of it, it’s the size of a cow or a bull. I hadn’t seen anything like it before, in Ireland anyway.’
Kevin Flannery, director of Dingle Oceanworld, told the Irish Independent: ‘He’s from the Arctic.
‘I’d say what happened is he fell asleep on an iceberg and drifted off and then he was gone too far, out into the mid-Atlantic or somewhere like that down off Greenland possibly.’
An Arctic walrus has been spotted on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, the first time one of the animals has been seen in the country since 2004
Flannery said the best thing for the walrus was rest and peace to regain energy ahead of a return north to his native land, a trip of hundreds of miles.
Houlihan said he returned to the area later in the day but the walrus had disappeared.
Speaking on RTE he said he hoped the walrus was off eating scallops and recuperating.
And Muireann has suggested two possible names for the walrus – Isabelle if it’s a girl, and Cian if it’s a boy.
‘She went home last night and she was drawing pictures of walruses. It was so adorable,’ added Houlihan.
‘We are in lockdown so the kids have gone back to school today for the first time, so it made things a bit easier for them to go back in today with a news story.’
Meanwhile Freddie the seal – who was attacked by a dog on the banks of the Thames on Sunday – was put down by vets who said it was ‘the only ethical and fair option’.
The animal, who was named after Freddie Mercury because of his crowd-pleasing antics, has been entertaining riverside walkers near Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes, west London, since he arrived up stream on the river last month.
Yesterday there were widespread calls for dog owners to keep their animals on leads if they cannot be controlled – as others called for the one responsible for the seal attack to be prosecuted.
Freddie Mercury, a seal who has been living near Hammersmith Bridge, in west London, was left with severe injuries after a dog off its lead attacked the young pup
The scene immediately after the attack, with a woman pictured holding the dog. It is not known if she is the pet’s owner
The animal, who was named after Freddie Mercury because of his crowd-pleasing antics, has been entertaining riverside walkers near Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes
Witnesses described the attack as ‘savage’ and said the dog would not let go despite of repeated attempts by passers-by
Distressing pictures showed the young pup being mauled by a brown cross-breed at around 12.45pm on Sunday.
Onlookers including a passing vet rushed over to release the dog’s clamped jaws and stayed with the injured seal until emergency services arrived.
Photographer Duncan Phillips, 55, who was shooting images of the seal when it was attacked on the slipway, told MyLondon: ‘It was quite a vicious attack. The dog just wouldn’t let go.
‘It wouldn’t let go despite repeated attempts by members of the public to separate the animals.’
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) sent medics to treat its severe wounds before taking it to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital (SEWH) in Tilbury by boat with help from the Port of London Authority and London Fire Brigade.
But vets said in an update on Monday: ‘Ourselves and the experts at British divers marine life rescue have consulted several specialist marine and orthopedic vets and as we strongly suspected having taken X-rays this morning the prognosis is extremely poor.
‘Freddie’s flipper is fractured and the joint dislocated. Seals do not take anaesthetic well as they have a dive reflex and don’t breathe.
‘We suspect the infection is spreading and with the other bite wounds to his body he is very miserable.
‘At this stage we believe the only ethical and fair option we have is to end his suffering.’
Four onlookers, including a vet, repeatedly tried to pry the dog’s jaw off the young seal but it refused, leaving severe wounds
The onlookers who had stopped to help held the seal in place until the emergency services could get there. Young Freddie was left with severe wounds and had to be taken to South Essex Wildlife Hospital with the help of the London Fire Brigade
The animal doctors shared a photo of Freddie’s X-ray after he fractured his flipper and disjointed his joint, while an infection also spread
Freddie was treated at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital where he was taken after the traumatic event on Sunday