Desperate action taken after Wally the Walrus sinks two more boats

190821 Wally
Credit: PA

Wally the Walrus has been built a special floating raft after he sunk two more boats on his ongoing tour of Europe.

The Arctic walrus was first spotted in Ireland off the coast of Valentia Island in March.

Wally arrived in Wales later that month where he became an overnight sensation.

He spent around two months off the coast of Pembrokeshire and was frequently seen in Tenby, where he quickly became the town's top attraction.

The animal was pictured capsizing an inflatable dinghy boat and attempting to climb aboard a fishing boat, as well as balancing a starfish on its nose.

He was frequently spotted lounging on the the RNLI slipway and drawing in the crowds.

Rescue crews in Wales even had to seek advice from marine experts on how to safely move a giant walrus amid concerns Wally could prevent the lifeboat from launching in an emergency.

Wally has since travelled 4,000km along the coast of western Europe, being spotted in France, Spain and other parts of the UK.

On Wednesday he was spotted in a Cork harbour town, with throngs of people turning out to catch a glimpse as he relaxed on a boat about 500 metres from the harbour.

A group of people dressed in Where’s Wally costumes were found trying to lure Wally onto a raft in a bid to prevent him sinking more boats as he has done elsewhere.

Melanie Croce, executive director at Seal Rescue Ireland, has urged the public to behave responsibly when visiting Wally.

She said: “All day, he’s been surrounded by boats, paddleboarders, kayakers, people coming right up close to the boat and sticking cameras in his face.

“We really need to put his welfare and his safety first.

“So we really are just advising the public to keep a safe distance, to please keep from disclosing the location, and to report it Seal Rescue Ireland’s 24 hour hotline if you do see him.

“He actually is showing signs of an injury on his flipper as well.

“That could be because people were approaching him and startling him and that’s caused him to repeatedly climb in and out of the boat, which puts him at risk and the boat at risk.

“So just please, please respect him from a distance.”

Wally has been climbing onto boats, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Efforts are being made to lure Wally onto a specially modified rib, to prevent further damage to other boats.

“We just hope that the next time he jumps off of the boat, they’re going to try to take the boat away, so that he uses the rib alternatively,” Ms Croce said.

“If he does take to the rib, which is what we’re hoping he’ll do, then that will be a designated place for him to be safe.”

Up to 100 people gathered around the walls of the harbour, with children, retired couples and wildlife photographers all taking advantage of the sunny weather to catch a sighting of Wally.

Seal Rescue Ireland say that Wally is a juvenile male, aged between four and five years old, and weighing around 800kg.

He was first spotted in Co Kerry in March, and since then has travelled all over Europe before returning to Ireland’s southwest coast.

Wally’s summer holiday has made headlines all over the continent, and while the reasons for his journey is unclear, it is feared it could be linked to climate change.

Ms Croce said: “He’s a wild animal, he’s very unpredictable.

“I’m pretty sure when he went as far south as Spain, that’s the most south any walrus has been documented going.

“So he’s not really following any rules.

“He’s kind of making them up as he goes.”

She added: “I would certainly suspect that sea ice melting due to climate change has displaced him.

“You know, animals like walruses and polar bears, ringed seals, hooded seals, these are all species that rely on sea ice.

“Due to climate change, we’re losing huge amounts of sea ice, and so they’re losing habitats.”

And because walruses are social creatures, she is hoping he can make his way home soon.

“We do hope that he can rest up and store up enough strength and energy to continue his journey northward and make it back to be with his own kind in the Arctic,” she said.

“They’re very, very social.

“So it’s not good for him to be so far away from his kind.

“We really want him to be back home with his own kind, in his own native habitat."