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Dublin: 11°C Friday 15 October 2021

Wally the Walrus spotted in Iceland 'on journey home to the Arctic'

Wally was spotted over 1,400 km away from his last known location in West Cork.

Wally pictured in Crookhaven, West Cork, 18 August.
Wally pictured in Crookhaven, West Cork, 18 August.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

WALLY THE WALRUS, who has been all over Europe, is believed to be journeying home to the Arctic after being seen in Iceland on Sunday. 

The Arctic Walrus was originally spotted lounging on rocks at Valentia Island back in March, before being seen off the coast of several other European countries, including England, France and Spain over the course of several months.

Wally had been last seen in Crookhaven, Cork on 30 August when images emerged on Sunday of a walrus in Höfn, Hornafjörður, southeast Iceland. 

Seal Rescue Ireland confirmed Wally had journeyed from Cork to Iceland after comparing photos with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

The marine experts said they were able to identify Wally by scars on both of his front flippers. 

“We are absolutely over the moon that he’s not only still alive and well, but he is well on his way home to the Arctic,” Seal Rescue Ireland said on Twitter alongside recent photos of Wally.

“He was seen swimming back out to sea last night (and even managed to avoid sinking any boats while he was there).

“Thanks to his ability to feed and rest, he has successfully made the long stretch and will hopefully reunite with his own kind again soon. Please always remember to give wildlife space, and put their safety and welfare first.”

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said walrus sightings in Icelandic waters are rare but Wally’s sighting is good news given he is now only some 300km from the Arctic Circle.

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The IWDG followed up with colleagues in Iceland who said that Wally had left Höfn on Monday night and there have been no further sightings.

“So perhaps it’s already on the last leg back to the Arctic region; although the nearest suitable walrus habitat would be a further 500km to the northwest in Eastern Greenland,” a recent IWDG update said. 

There are lots of unanswered questions surrounding its exact route on this penultimate leg, and it’s surprising there were no confirmed sightings records between Crookhaven and Höfn, as it likely “hauled out” to rest along the Irish West coast or Scotland’s Western Isles, and a few additional dots on maps would increase our confidence as to its likley route back north.

During his time off the Irish coast, Wally attracted hundreds of onlookers, prompting Junior Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan to urge members of the public to keep their distance and “have some cop on”.

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Adam Daly

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