“That is usually what happens to them, is that they fall asleep on an iceberg and then get carried off from the Arctic,” a marine biologist said of the walrus’ predicament.
According to The Independent, on Sunday, Alan Houlihan and his five-year-old daughter Muireann spotted a strange visitor on Ireland’s Valentia Island — an Arctic walrus.
Houlihan thought the cow-sized animal was a seal until he spotted the animal’s tusks. After his daughter pointed out the walrus, Houlihan took a video of the exhausted-looking creature.
“He kind of jumped up on the rocks. He was massive. He was about the size of a bull or a cow, pretty similar in size, he’s big, big,” Houlihan told the outlet about the sighting.
While Houlihan was able to determine the visitor’s species, he didn’t know how the animal, which is native to the North Pole’s colder waters, found its way to an Irish island.
Kevin Flannery of Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium told The Independent that the walrus, which is probably a juvenile based on its tusk length, likely fell asleep on an iceberg that melted off the Greenland shelf and carried the animal towards Ireland.
Flannery added that Houlihan’s walrus sighting is extremely rare and the only “definite confirmation” of an Arctic walrus in Ireland that he is aware of.
“He would be pretty tired and pretty hungry at this stage. That is usually what happens to them is that they fall asleep on an iceberg and then get carried off from the Arctic,” the marine biologist said. He also asked animal lovers to give the walrus space to eat and gain strength for its journey back home.
“If he regains his strength hopefully he’ll make his way back up,” Flannery added.
On Monday, Houlihan said he went to check on the walrus from a distance, but was unable to spot the animal.