Arctic walrus first spotted in Ireland after 'falling asleep on iceberg' turns up in Pembrokeshire

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An arctic walrus has been spotted in Pembrokeshire, a week after it turned up in Ireland, having thought to have fallen asleep on an iceberg.

The RSPCA has been called out to check on the welfare of a walrus in Pembrokeshire, the first call of its kind in its near 200-year history.

Ellie West, an RSPCA officer, was called out to Pembrokeshire by Welsh Life Marine Rescue on Saturday morning to check on the animal's welfare.

She said, "It seems this Arctic walrus has swum over to Wales and was resting on rocks when I went to check on him.

"He was resting and, although appearing slightly underweight, thankfully he wasn’t  displaying any signs of sickness or injury."

The Arctic walrus sleeping soundly Credit: Emma Ryan

It is thought the walrus came across the North Atlantic from Greenland.

"This is an incredibly rare sighting and these big, beautiful animals never usually venture so far south", Ellie said.

"The juvenile walrus has likely travelled down this way in search of food."

The walrus was spotted off the Pembrokeshire coast in what the RSPCA believes could be the first sighting of its kind Credit: RSPCA

Ellie added that the walrus appeared to be a little underweight and had a few scrapes but seemed in generally good condition and was seen to be swimming well. 

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA national wildlife coordinator, said, "This was a landmark day for the RSPCA’s wildlife team.

"While we’ve been rescuing animals and responding to welfare calls for almost 200 years, I believe this is our first ever walrus call!"

Walruses can withstand freezing temperatures as low as -35°C Credit: Emma Ryan

Climate change is believed to be the greatest threat to walruses, according to the WWF. The conservation organisation says melting sea ice means more Pacific walruses are resting on land, further from their feeding grounds. These growing gatherings can be deadly, especially for young calves.

The WWF also states that walruses can live to around 40 years old and can weigh up to a tonne as the animals need fat to stay alive.

Walruses are sensitive to disturbance and noise Credit: Emma Ryan

Ellie added: “We're pleased he seems well but, if anyone spots him in this area or elsewhere and has concerns about his welfare, we'd ask them to call our emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999.

"We'd also ask members of the public who may spot him on the rocks to keep their distance and not to approach him or spook him as he needs to rest and conserve his energy.

"I will certainly never forget this day, in fact it’s still sinking in that I’ve been monitoring a walrus on the Pembrokeshire coast today; it’s been absolutely amazing!"