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Walrus ends up in Ireland after falling asleep on an iceberg

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A young walrus about two meters long was recently seen in County Kerry, Ireland. According to a biologist, this animal which lives normally in the arctic circle would probably have drifted on an iceberg after falling asleep on it.

A five-year-old girl spotted the animal on March 14 on an Irish beach on Valentia Island, County Kerry. His father, Alan Houlihan, initially thought it was a seal. “Then we saw the tusks“, He explains to IrishCentral, evoking a huge animal “the size of a bull or a cow“. The question is: what was this walrus doing in Ireland?

This is not the first time that such an animal has been seen in the region. The first sighting was recorded in 1897, then nothing until 1980. Since then, only about twenty specimens have been spotted.

The point is that most walruses (Odobenus rosmarus) roam around the Arctic Circle where they hunt for crustaceans in shallow water.

The specimen seen on Valentia Island is young enough. Adult walruses can indeed grow tusks one meter long, while those of our individual measured less than thirty centimeters for a body length estimated at about two meters from muzzle to tail.

A photo of the walrus strolling. Credit: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group

Asleep on an iceberg?

How come this young walrus ended up in County Kerry? “I would say he fell asleep on an iceberg and drifted, then he got too far, in the middle of the Atlantic, off Greenland maybe“, Assumes marine biologist Kevin Flannery, interviewed by The independent.

He could also have “jumped” from island to island, only to end up in Iceland and then in Shetland before Ireland, but this is unlikely. I think it comes to us from the Atlantic. And after driving thousands of miles he was probably exhausted and hungry“, he added. “I hope he can enjoy some scallops around Valentia and regain his strength to return home.“.

walrus ireland
Morse code distribution map, view centered on the North Pole. Credit: Mirko Thiessen

Dr Peter Richardson of the Marine Conservation Society has no doubts: “It is certainly unusual for a walrus to have gone this far south, but it is young and appears fit and well fed. I think he’s able to come home. These animals are known to travel vast distances“.


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