‘Wally the Walrus’ spotted in Iceland after tour of British Isles and Europe

800kg mammal first spotted off coast of southern Ireland

Matt Mathers
Friday 01 October 2021 13:27

Celebrity mammal 'Wally the Walrus' has made an appearance in Iceland following a trip around Europe, much to the delight of observers and conservationists.

The 800kg tusked creature first hit the headlines when he was spotted off the southern coast of Ireland in March, sinking several boats before touring the Isles of Scilly, France and Spain.

Wally then disappeared for around three weeks until eagle-eyed fishermen spotted him resting on a sea wall at the mouth of a fjord in southeast Iceland.

He has been seen on several occasions since then, attracting the attention of curious visitors - a local police chief among them, according to reports.

Looking leaner than he had in previous sightings, experts hope Wally, who is around four or five years old, is relaxing and building up blubber before heading back to the Arctic where he could start the search for a mate.

“They look kind of clumsy, but he’s just so majestic in everything he does. "He moves with such grace,” Lilja Jóhannesdóttir, a biologist who lives in Höfn - where Wally was spotted - and works at the south-east Iceland nature research centre, which is tracking his movements, said.

“It’s also sad because he shouldn’t really be here and he definitely shouldn’t have been in Spain, so it makes you wonder … obviously all species are facing all sorts of problems because of anthropogenic influences,” she added.

Ester Rut Unnsteinsdóttir, a mammal ecologist at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, said it was not uncommon for young male walruses to go off alone after separating from their mothers at two years old.

“Male walruses become mature at seven years of age so he has more years to wander, grow bigger and get longer teeth.”

He now needs to find a group and fight other males to find a mate, she added.

Wally sits in a harbour in Hofn, Iceland on 19 September

The Arctic walrus was first spotted in Ireland off the coast of Valentia Island in March, and then travelled 4,000km along the coast of western Europe being spotted in France Spain and the UK.

In August he was spotted in a Cork harbour town, with throngs of people turning out to catch a glimpse as he relaxed on a boat about 500 metres from the harbour.

A group of people dressed in Where’s Wally costumes were found trying to lure Wally onto a raft in a bid to prevent him from sinking more boats as he has done elsewhere.

Up to 100 people gathered around the walls of the harbour, with children, retired couples and wildlife photographers all taking advantage of the sunny weather to catch a sighting of Wally.

Wally’s summer holiday has made headlines all over the continent, and while the reasons for his journey is unclear, it is feared it could be linked to climate change.

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