WARNINGS HAVE been issued to the Irish public not to disturb or approach the Arctic Walrus which has been spotted in Irish waters in recent days.
The giant creature, dubbed 'Wally the Walrus', was first spotted on Valentia Island in County Kerry in March of this year, hundreds of miles away from home.
From there he continued on his journey to warmer waters, being spotted near the United Kingdom, France and Sicily-- but has now arrived back to the Emerald Isle.
Walrus relaxing in a boat in Dunnycove, Ardfield, Co Cork having earlier sank one boat and damaged a number of others. pic.twitter.com/1AZwtxHq9O
— Gerard Dillane (@adrag1) August 9, 2021
In recent days, the walrus has been spotted on Ireland's east and south coast, most recently in West Cork, and animal welfare charities have issued repeated pleas for people not to disturb the creature and to watch him from afar.
Now a new warning has been issued after hundreds of tourists flocked to see the Arctic Walrus in Cork-- and one woman even climbed into a boat he was resting in.
As a semi-aquatic creature, walruses must take frequent breaks and come up for air when swimming, and as a result 'Wally' has clambered onto boats and ribs on his journey, sinking at least one and damaging several more.
— Ireland's Wildlife (@WildIreland) August 9, 2021
Pádraig Whooley, Sightings Officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group spoke to The Journal where he revealed he saw a woman climb onto a boat where the walrus was resting-- before quickly changing her mind.
"I think what happened was, she saw that, all of a sudden, it wasn’t the cute, quizzical-looking, comical face of Wally the Walrus. It was a big mammal that was the size of a bull," he told the outlet.
"She decided very quickly to get back onto her own boat after that."
Earlier this week, Seal Rescue Ireland issued an appeal for unused boats, ribs or pontoons to be donated for the walrus to rest on to stop the creature damaging and sinking boats when he came up to rest-- which also put Wally himself at risk.
Seal Rescue Ireland revealed that this method of donating ribs and pontoons for the walrus to rest on without damaging any private property was used by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue while Wally was in the Isles of Siciliy and proved successful, "so we are learning from what has worked in the past!".
"Therefore we are making an appeal for the DONATION OF AN UNUSED RIB (no engine necessary!) or a large pontoon, which can be used as a designated site for him to haul out on and have a rest", the spokesperson wrote.
Yesterday, the West Cork Animal Welfare Group Ltd thanked Mr Michael Scully of the Clonakilty Distillery after he allowed the walrus to rest in his boat and then used a towel to gather his scent from the boat and wipe it on a pontoon, which should encourage the animal to rest safely on that rather than approach and damage other boats.
Animal expert Mr Whooley also told The Journal that the presence of the arctic animal in Irish waters could be a consequence of climate change and the damage done to its home environment.
While Ireland has not experienced the enormous wildfires or devastating flooding as in other parts of the world, Mr Whooley said "we can look out our window and see a walrus. It's quite worrying."