Wayward walrus winds up in Ireland after long detour from Arctic

A lucky Alan Houlihan and his five-year-old daughter, Muireann, were the first to enjoy the incredibly rare sight of an Arctic walrus lounging on a rock off the Irish coast.

Images of the animal washed up on the rocks at Valentia Island in Kerry, Ireland on Sunday afternoon is wowed the youngster, her father and biologists alike.

“He disappeared into the sea for a while and he then came back and put himself on a rock for a good couple of hours. It was fantastic,” Houlihan told Irish press.

Alan Houlihan snapped some amazing images of the wayward walrus. Photo: Alan Houlihan/IWDG

The Irish Whale & Dolphin Group wrote on social media that this was only the third validated sighting of a walrus in Ireland since 1999.

And, according to Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre there have been 11 walrus sightings since 1897.

In 2018, an adult walrus was seen on the north and west coast of Scotland.

And this particular one might have been kind of in the neighbourhood recently.

“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,” according to the IWDG.

The IWDG asked people to give the walrus space if they come upon it.

The animal appears young and could be male or female — as both have tusks — according to experts.

It’s not exactly clear why it landed in Ireland.

Why the walrus wound up in Ireland isn’t exactly clear. Photo: Alan Houlihan/IWDG

But there are some theories.

Kevin Flannery of Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium suggested the walrus was dozing on iceberg, which melted off the Greenland Shelf only to find itself wake up in Ireland.

Tom Arnbom, a senior advisor to WWF on the Arctic and its marine life, disagreed. He suggested the adolescent animals headed out on a long trip to find new areas to breed.

“It is lost while it is far from any friends, but I am not afraid that it will die,” Arnbom told the BBC, adding that the walrus does not appear sick in the photographs.

Walrus sighting confirmed from Valentia. Co. Kerry …… IWDG received a sighting report of a Walrus from Alan Houlihan…

Posted by Irish Whale and Dolphin Group on Sunday, March 14, 2021

Still, some are worried about the animal’s condition.

But Monday brought potentially some positive news — in that the animal wasn’t seen anywhere on the shore.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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