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Walrus Takes A Summer Vacation Across Europe

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Wally, the walrus, embarked on an unexpected European vacation in 2021, captivating hearts and highlighting the delicate balance between wildlife and human interaction.

Wally the walrus
Picture / the Dodo

A Summer Vacation Across Europe

Imagine lounging on your yacht, soaking up the sun, and suddenly spotting a massive walrus trying to board your vessel. This isn’t a scene from a quirky movie; it’s the real-life adventure of Wally, the Atlantic walrus who decided to take a six-month vacation across Western Europe in 2021.

Wally’s Grand European Tour

Wally the walrus
Picture / New York Times

Wally’s journey began in March when he was first spotted on an island. The sight was so unusual that Ireland’s marine rescue teams immediately became interested. “We were just absolutely floored because we’ve never seen a walrus here before,” said one of the rescuers. Wally’s presence was both a blessing and a curse. While he attracted large crowds, fascinated by the rare sight, he also put himself in danger by being so close to human activity.

But Ireland was just the beginning. Wally then went to Wales, where he was described as a “giant baby” exploring his surroundings. His curious nature and lack of fear towards humans meant that marine life rescue teams had to work hard to ensure his safety.

His journey didn’t stop there. Wally was spotted in Cornwall, La Rochelle in France, and even as far south as Bilbao in Spain. His continuous Southern movement raised concerns. Was he lost? Was he searching for other walruses?

The Boat-Loving Walrus

One of the most intriguing parts of Wally’s journey was his penchant for boats. In the Isles of Scilly, Wally became more focused on hauling out on boats. This behavior is believed to be because, in the Arctic, walruses would typically haul out on floating ice. However, Wally’s love for boats wasn’t without its challenges. His massive size meant he inadvertently caused damage, even sinking some boats. To address this, a special pontoon was set up just for him, ensuring both his safety and that of the boats.

The Return Journey

Wally the walrus

After his escapades in the Isles of Scilly, Wally disappeared for a while, raising concerns about his well-being, especially after a storm hit. But, in a twist fit for a movie, Wally was later spotted in Iceland. Rescuers could confirm it was him thanks to the distinctive scars on his flippers. The joy of knowing Wally had made it back north was immense. “He did end up going in the right direction, and hopefully, now he’s somewhere back in the Arctic amongst other walruses doing normal walrus things,” a rescuer shared.

The Tale of Freya

But Wally wasn’t the only walrus making headlines. Freya, another walrus, has been cruising European waters since 2019. Like Wally, she was a social creature and often approached humans. However, her story had a tragic end. Due to concerns about public safety, Freya was euthanized in Norway, a decision that devastated many. This incident highlighted the need for better management of human-wildlife interactions and the importance of treating these majestic creatures with respect.

The Video

YouTube video
Youtube / the Dodo

A Glimpse into the Future

Wally’s and Freya’s adventures are more than just fascinating tales. They’re a window into the challenges faced by wildlife in a changing world. As sea ice continues to melt, creatures like walruses will explore new areas, bringing them into contact with humans. It’s our responsibility to ensure their safety and protect their habitats.

In conclusion, Wally’s European vacation was a roller-coaster of emotions, filled with awe, concern, joy, and lessons about coexistence. His story serves as a reminder of the wonders of nature and the intricate balance between humans and wildlife.

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