Wally the walrus is seen in ICELAND after not being seen for almost a month as he heads to Arctic
The world’s most famous walrus has been spotted alive and well in Iceland, nearly a month since it was last seen off Ireland’s southwest coast.
The wandering walrus captured the imagination of wildlife enthusiasts around the world with its European travels this summer, including stops in France, Spain and the Isles of Scilly.
The four-year-old whiskey man started his tour in March and when he felt like a pit stop, he would haul his 800kg bulk to the nearest motorboat and take a nap — sometimes for several days.
But there were concerns that Wally had died after 22 days with no confirmed sightings of the marine mammal and a carcass washed up on the coast of North Devon after scientists predicted he was on his way to his Arctic homeland, which is likely to be Greenland or Norway. .
Now Seal Rescue Ireland has confirmed that the legendary walrus was sighted in Iceland on Sunday, a staggering 900km from Wally’s last known location in West Cork, as it appears to be heading for the Arctic.
Wally the walrus captured the imagination of wildlife enthusiasts around the world this summer with his travels, including stops in France, Spain and the Isles of Scilly. He has now been spotted in Iceland (photo)
The charity shared the good news on Twitter, writing: ‘UPDATE: After 22 days with no confirmed sightings, we were beginning to lose hope that we would ever see the young wandering walrus again.
‘However, we have just received word that a similar-looking walrus was sighted yesterday in Iceland, more than 900 km from Wally’s last known location in West Cork.
‘After consulting and comparing photos with our friends at British Divers Marine Life, it has been confirmed that this is Wally!
‘Notice the similar scars on the front of both front fins. We are absolutely thrilled that not only is he still very much alive, but he is well on his way home to the Arctic.”
According to the charity, Wally was spotted swimming back into the sea as he continues his incredible journey, with the young male stopping in France, Ireland, Wales and the Isles of Scilly.
The charity urged people to give harbor and gray seals the same ‘love and respect’ Wally has had this summer, as marine mammals are vulnerable when they give birth at this time of year, while climate change continues to affect their habitats’ to threaten’ .
Seal Rescue Ireland has confirmed that the legendary walrus was sighted in Iceland on Sunday, a staggering 900km from Wally’s last known location in West Cork, as it appears to be heading for the Arctic.
The announcement came after people worried that Wally had died after 22 days with no confirmed sightings of the marine mammal, as scientists predicted it was on its way to its Arctic homeland, which will likely be Greenland or Norway.
It added: ‘We are so grateful to the many members of the public who have shown their support and love for this walrus by providing it with a safe place to rest and gather its strength during a visit to our shores prior on this wonderful journey.
“Thanks to his ability to eat and rest, he has successfully completed the long journey and will hopefully reunite with his own kind soon.
‘Remember to always give wildlife space and put their safety and well-being first! This success is a great opportunity to highlight the immense pressures our marine mammals face daily from human disturbance.”
Wally rose to world fame this summer as he took in the rays of the sun in Wales, Ireland, France, Spain and the Isles of Scilly as he embarked on his wild adventure.
In recent months, Wally has been a frequent sight among the pontoons and boats in the harbors and bays along Cork’s southwest coast.
But as fall approaches, marine experts predicted that the 800kg male will return to the colder waters of the Arctic and reunite with other walruses.
“Wally is a bit unpredictable, but we hope he moves north before winter,” said Melanie Croce, director of Seal Rescue Ireland, which monitors the walrus’ movements.
“This is the season when the pack ice grows and extends further south and when walruses gather in the Arctic.
“Walrus are social creatures and Wally is no exception, so we hope he finally decides it’s time to go home.”
Wally (pictured in Ireland) rose to fame this summer as he took in the sun’s rays over Wales, Ireland, France, Spain and the Isles of Scilly as he embarked on his wild adventure
But as fall approaches, marine experts have predicted that the 800kg young male (pictured in Tenby, Wales, on May 17) will return to the colder waters of the Arctic and reunite with other walruses.
It is believed that Wally’s adventure may be linked to climate change.
“I would certainly suspect that the melting of the sea ice due to climate change has driven him out,” Ms Croce said.
‘You know, animals like walruses and polar bears, ringed seals, hooded seals, they’re all species that depend on sea ice.
‘Climate change is causing us to lose huge amounts of sea ice, and so they are losing habitats.’
The lone walrus is believed to be from Svalbard, north of Norway, and has been on a 4,000km solo journey for months.
From a first sighting off the south west coast of Ireland, then on to Wales, Cornwall, France, the Isles of Scilly and Bilbao, Wally has left a trail of destruction and a few sunken boats in his wake.
His sighting in Bilbao in northern Spain is considered the southernmost a walrus has ever seen.
“The most important things are to keep a safe distance of at least 100 meters and observe calmly,” Ms Croce added. ‘This is a huge animal, he is 800 kilos. And so he can hurt someone or he can hurt himself, if he is afraid.
“If people startle him and make him stressed, he can damage property.”
Seal Rescue Ireland had installed two floating pontoons and an inflatable boat for Wally to hoist himself on, but he hadn’t been seen since the weekend when the heat wave ended and was absent for nearly a month until he was sighted in Iceland.
Ms Croce added: ‘When the weather gets worse he tends to go out to sea for a few days where he will eat and return when things get better.
“We really hope he decides to go home, although of course he won’t be aware of climate change and what lies ahead.
“It is likely that we will see more roving Arctic species like Wally in the coming years as they are being displaced by the effects of climate change.”
The walrus had ended up in hot water after getting used to climbing on dinghies in the area and damaging boats in St Mary’s Harbour. Pictured: Wally climbs on a boat off the coast of Ardmore, Co Waterford, on August 4
Animal welfare organizations believe that Wally (pictured in Pembrokeshire) initially crossed the North Atlantic from Greenland on an ice floe and now appears to be returning to his homeland
Animal welfare organizations believe that Wally initially crossed the North Atlantic from Greenland on an ice floe.
He was first spotted in Ireland before taking up residence in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, in March.
Organizations and individuals, including British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust and the St Mary’s Harbor Team, had been monitoring Wally’s behavior and implementing strategies to ensure his safety and prevent damage to to limit property.
The walrus had ended up in hot water after getting used to climbing on dinghies in the area and damaging boats in St Mary’s Harbour.
A custom pontoon with his own scent was built for him so that he had a safe place to rest before he could travel again.
Locals in the Isles of Scilly were warned to stay away from Wally the Walrus as the high temperatures ‘challenge’ him.
The Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust warned: ‘This heat isn’t something it’s adapted to, so it’s now more important than ever to give it some rest and space.’
Alaskan walrus expert Lori Quakenbush said Wally could only move on if he has the energy to make the 3,200 km journey home, and it now appears that the marauding mammal has finally built up the strength to go home.