Walrus Continues Tour of British Isles

The way-off-course young walrus that turned up last week off the coast of Ireland has continued its explorations of the British Isles. Yesterday, it turned up in Wales, creating an instant tourism mini-boom in the area. It covered the 450km in a respectable six days.

Some question whether it’s the same animal that delighted local viewers in County Kerry, Ireland, but the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group studied photos of the Welsh animal and say that the two have the same white markings on its left flipper and same length of its tusk. As we reported in the earlier story, while 11 other walrus have turned up in Ireland since records began in 1897, their occurrence is uncommon. It is unlikely that two similar-looking individuals would show up in the same general area within the same week.

Over the decades, other arctic animals have also made cameo appearances in the UK. In 1949, a male and female narwhal turned up on the southeast coast of England. The female appeared off Medway, Kent, while the male swam up the Thames.

In 2018, a beluga whale unfortunately nicknamed Benny the Beluga also appeared in Kent before taking up residence in the Thames for three months. Belugas are known for following their food, no matter how far.

The walrus traveled 450km from Ireland to Wales. Photo: Amy Compton/Wales News Service


An animal rescue official in Wales reports that the walrus was “slightly underweight”, a discerning call, given the animal’s natural wrinkled and blubbery appearance. So while penguins found on Brazilian beaches have been airlifted to cooler waters, that would be difficult with this young walrus which, underweight or not, would still tip the scales at close to a ton.