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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Wally the walrus swaps Ireland for Iceland


By Sarah Finnan
21st Sep 2021

@clondistillery / Twitter

Wally the walrus swaps Ireland for Iceland

There were concerns over Wally the walrus' whereabouts but thankfully he's popped his head above water and has been spotted on his holidays over in Iceland.

First spotted down in the Kingdom back in March, Wally the Walrus garnered himself quite the reputation since then. In Ireland as a result of, yep you guessed it, climate change, he found himself severely lacking places to rest his weary bones (walruses are semi-aquatic mammals who spend half their time in the water, and the other half above it on sea ice or land).  

But, ever the problem solver, Wally came up with quite an ingenious solution and took to using local boats in lieu of passing sea ice. A good idea in his mind, but perhaps not the best news for those who owned said boats as Wally seemed to take the “leave no trace” mentality quite literally and each of the vessels he stopped off in subsequently sunk. Safe to say not everyone is always so happy to see him…

Trying to source a floating couch specifically for Wally, local animal welfare volunteers hoped that he might use it as a resting point instead of the boats he had become so fond of. There was one big problem, though. Widely considered to be somewhat of a local celeb (he never quite reach Fungi status, but he was close!), people swarmed to the area to catch a glimpse of Wally and volunteers at Seal Rescue Ireland soon feared that the continued attention may encourage him to stick around. 

“The location where he is now, he’s getting [repeatedly] harassed and approached by boats. There are a lot of people who are not respecting the distance, coming up and sticking cameras in his face. We don’t want him to hang in this area because of the boats that are swarming him and not respecting,” Melanie Croce, executive director of Seal Rescue Ireland told the Independent back in August.

Stressed, agitated and visibly injured, Seal Rescue Ireland urged people to stay at least 100 metres away from Wally so as to “respect him from a distance”. Also asking people not to post his whereabouts on social media (so as not to attract further attention to the animal who was already struggling), that request has since gone out the window and recent photos of Wally have just emerged… showing him on his holidays over in Iceland!

Comparing photos of the mammal from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Irish Seal Rescue has confirmed that it’s definitely him. Which is great news considering there were worries that he might not be able to make it any further.

Thanking the public for their support, Seal Rescue Ireland posted a heartfelt message on social media that reads:

We are so grateful to the many members of the public who have shown support and love for this walrus by giving him a safe place to rest and gather his strength while visiting our shores ahead of this magnificent journey.

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.

Not quite at his final destination yet, he still has to travel up Northern Iceland which will take him to the Arctic Circle. “The more likely destination is to make that 300km passage from Northern Iceland in a westerly direction that will take him to Greenland, where he will find plenty of walruses and perhaps even his clan,” Padraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.