Video footage of Wally the Walrus has been captured in Waterford, as the giant walrus makes waves with his return to Ireland.
Carlow weather creator Alan O'Reilly, on a staycation in Ardmore, Co Waterford, made the new sea friend while out on his daily run this morning.
He captured the footage of Wally, newly returned to Irish shores after a European sojourn around the coasts of Wales, Cornwall, France, Spain and the Scilly Isles.
The giant walrus was first spotted on Kerry’s Valentia Island last March.
From there, he headed south for warmer waters and has been spotted around France, Spain and Wales before spending six weeks on the Cornish coast.
He was seen most recently at the Isles of Scilly before being spotted lounging on a rib at Clonea Strand in Ardmore, Co Waterford on Monday afternoon.
Where’s Wally? He was keeping me company on my run 😁 pic.twitter.com/cLwQABcQh7
— Carlow Weather (@CarlowWeather) August 4, 2021
Wally is believed to have originated in Svalbard, north of Norway. Some scientists believe he fell asleep on a floating sheet of ice and found himself very far from home.
The IT specialist who started Carlow Weather in 2008 as a hobby tweeted: “Where’s Wally? He was keeping me company on my run.”
While in the Scilly Isles, a purpose-built pontoon was made for the walrus in a bid to reduce damage he had been causing to a number of boats and in a bid to encourage him to leave. He sank or damaged a number of vessels since arriving in June.
Seal Rescue Ireland, based in Wexford, confirmed the young walrus has returned to Irish waters after completing the European leg of his tour and has been seen off the Co Waterford coast.
However, a spokesperson for Seal Rescue Ireland has appealed to the public not to approach him as he is a protected species.
“Please observe quietly from a minimum of 300m and keep dogs on a lead. Do not publicly disclose the location of the sighting to avoid attracting crowds to him.
“Remember that this is a very sensitive species, and he's a very long way from his Arctic home.
“Report sightings to SRI's 24/7 Rescue Hotline on 087 195 5393. We are working with a number of wildlife organisations who have been monitoring his movements since he was first spotted last March, to minimise the risk of stress/injury and in hopes that he will make his way back to his native northern waters.”
As sea ice melts due to climate change, Arctic species, such as walruses, are losing habitat and may be forced to explore new areas.