WALLY THE WALRUS

 

In March 2021, a five year old girl, out walking with her father, spotted a very very large seal on Glanleam Beach, Valentia in County Kerry. It turned out to be a Walrus. 

 

Walruses are usually to be found in the Arctic, places such as Greenland, and rarely venture as far south as Ireland and England, not least because they prefer colder seas.

 

Map showing where Wally has been sighted (as reported in social media), from Valentia Island, to Broadhaven, his main stay on the slipway of the lifeboat station in Tenby and, most recently the sighting near Padstow in Cornwall on 19th May.

(Click the map for a closer look)

 

COMING BACK UP NORTH ??

The last confirmed sighting of Wally the UK was in Padstow on 19th May.

 

On 27th May 2021, he was sighted Vendée, in the Loire region. He then settled for a few days in the docks of La Rochelle.

 

There was some concern that he may be carrying an
injury - after potentially being hit by a boat (although
there were no actual sightings of such an incident. French marine experts, however, have viewed him (from a safe distance) and have reported that he seems well.

 

On 5th June 2021, he was sighted further south still, in the the Basque country of Spain.

 

On 17th June 2021 - more than a week after the last sighting in Spain, there was a walrus sighting in Porth Cressa in the Scilly Isles. Up to his old tricks,
he was filmed trying to get into a boat. Is he on
his way back to Cornwall? Or Wales?

Or Greenland??

 

 

These maps are rough guides only - please do not use them for navigation purposes or even for answering quiz questions...

 

Wally

 

When Wally was first seen, he was described as being the size of a large cow. Experts believe, based largely on looking at his tusks, that he is a young male. He was perhaps underweight when he arrived in Ireland, weighing around 500kg - the approximate weight of a grand piano!

 

Photographer: Factfinder404. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Wally's journey

 

Walruses are great swimmers and can stay underwater for half an hour. In terms of speed, they can travel at just over four miles an hour which means, for example, that Wally's journey of 350 nautical miles from Valentia to Broadhaven would have taken a minimum of 93 hours - just under 4 full days.

 

His journey from Tenby to Padstow, 70 nautical miles would have needed a minimum of 18 hours. he was last seen in Tenby on 17th May and spotted in Padstow on 19th May so he may have had plenty of rest and food stops on the way - a more leisurely journey than his swim from Ireland to Wales..

 

It has been suggested that Wally travelled from Greenland. From Greenland to Valentia could be (depending on where he started from and the route he took) a distance of around 1700 nautical miles. This would equate (unless he got a lift on a ice sheet in the style of Buddy the Elf...), to a swimming time of 440 hours - 18 full days.

 

What do walruses eat?

 

Walruses are not particularly fussy eaters but their favourite food is clams - small bi-valves. Because walruses are very large and clams are very small, walruses will typically eat 3,000 to 6,000 clams a day.

 

They feed by sliding along the sea bed, with their snouts in the sand feeling out clams which are partially or wholly buried. 

Where is Wally now?

 

After an excursion to Cornwall, on Sunday 23rd May, it was reported in social media that a fisherman spotted a walrus in Barafundle in Pembrokeshire, not far from Tenby where he has spent most of the spring. 

 

He may go back to Tenby where he seemed settled on the slipway despite having to move regularly to let the lifeboat pass.

 

But he may now be on his way home.

During his time there, he appears to have put on weight which may be significant in terms of when he decides to make the long journey home.

 

He would ordinarily be in the cold waters of the Arctic with the company of other walruses whereas the waters here are only going to get warmer as we go into summer. And as a young male, he thoughts are surely going to turn to breeding soon so he will need to find a mate. And there is a distinct shortage of eligible mates in Wales...