15/03/2021
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Walrus makes landfall in south-west Ireland

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A Walrus was discovered on rocks on the north side of Valentia Island, Co Kerry, on Sunday [14 March 2021] afternoon.

The hefty pinniped was discovered by Alan Houlihan and his five-year-old daughter Muireann, who quickly realised it was a Walrus rather than a seal when it hauled itself out onto rocks.

The animal was evidently exhausted, as Walruses often are when seen in such situations, and promptly went to sleep. It was still present as the light faded.

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With its relatively short tusks, the animal appears to be a young male. A similar-aged Walrus was seen on the beach at Thy National Park, near Vorupør, Denmark, on 17 February of this year and, given the species's rarity south of its normal range, and its tendency for wide-ranging movements, it seems possible that the same individual is responsible for both sightings. Indeed, male Walrus was seen at several sites in Scotland between March and June 2018 was later seen in Norway that July.

Walrus sightings are rare but not unknown in Ireland. The first record came from the Shannon area in 1897, with around a dozen noted since then – most of which occurred since the 1980s. All previous sightings are on the west coast between Co Donegal and Co Cork.