Imagine you're out enjoying a nice float on a boat nowhere near the Arctic, when you spot a ginormous Arctic walrus hoisting himself out of the water and onto a boat nearby.
What do you do, besides pull out your camera and take a video?
That's Wally the walrus, as he's come to be known, and that boat is somewhere along the coast of the British Isles. The juvenile Arctic walrus was first spotted in March and has been seen along the coast of Western Europe as far south as Spain, according to the BBC, but appears to be making his way back north, hopefully to his home habitat. He's doing alright, but there's one problem: He's been making himself at home on people's boats along the way and, unsurprisingly considering his size, sinking some of them.
Walruses live much of their life swimming around in the water, but they need surfaces to rest on. Up in the Arctic, they'll lounge on floating pieces of ice, but down in the sea waters surrounding the British Isles, Wally keeps trying to park his massive self on sea vessels that don't belong to him.
I have been fortunate over the years to have enjoyed many memorable wildlife scenes.... But, a #Walrus - climbing… https://t.co/eFeK7OQxn4— Wicklow Nature (@Wicklow Nature) 1628097473.0
According to the Irish Examiner, British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) in the UK provided a floating pontoon for Wally during the six weeks he spent in the Isles of Scilly this summer. Now that he's hanging off the coast of Ireland, Seal Rescue Ireland (SRI) has secured an unused pontoon for Wally's use and scented it using towels from a boat that he'd recently utilized (and sunk).
SRI is working with other wildlife groups to try to help keep Wally safe as he makes his way back to wherever he came from.
"We have never done this before so there are lots of learnings as we go," SRI executive director Melanie Croce told the Irish Examiner.
"We would like to be able to let him to continue his natural behaviors but when word gets out about his location, a situation arises where we have to intervene.
"We only step in when human interactions with him threaten to disturb him. Our priority is the animal's welfare."
Boaters are asked to stay 100-500m away from Wally and not to publicly announce sighting locations until the designated floating vessel can be deployed for him.
Wally the walrus climbs on our boat in the isles of scillywww.youtube.com
Too many people congregating to see him could interfere with Wally's ability to go where he needs to go in addition to causing him unnecessary distress.
Wally has wandered thousands of miles and still has a long way to go if he's going to make it home. Poor Wally doesn't mean to be a nuisance—he just gets tuckered out and needs somewhere to lay his weary head.
Good for the wildlife protectors for figuring out a way to give the big guy a resting spot and for advising everyone to let Wally find his way without human interference.
Wally the Walrus tour of Europe continues (8) (Isles of Scilly) - ITV News - 6th July 2021www.youtube.com
Good luck, Wally. Hope you find your way home soon.
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