Wally the wandering walrus, who has covered thousands of miles since first showing up on the west coast of Ireland, is rapidly outstaying his welcome on the Isles of Scilly, where he has currently set up home.
As previously reported by Scuba Diver, Wally has been on his travels, going from an extended period in Wales to Cornwall, and then down to France and even the coast of Spain, before turning up last month in the Isles of Scilly.
However, while he has caused a bit of a nuisance on some of his previous stopovers – notably lounging on the RNLI slipway in Tenby, which made launching interesting – he has mostly been a welcome spectacle very rarely seen this far from their native Arctic waters.
That has all changed in the Isles of Scilly, though, where it is estimated he has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to boats that he has tried to board, sinking several in the process. Efforts are now underway to entice the animal, thought to be around four years old, away from the harbour on St Mary’s.
BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue) is working with a number of groups, including conservation organisations, Devon and Cornwall Police and the RNLI, to work on ways to dissuade Wally from his boat-boarding antics.
Dan Jarvis, from BDMLR, said: “It is causing a lot of angst in the community, especially for those whose boats have been damaged. It is becoming a really big issue in that harbour and we need to do something to discourage him from being in it.”
The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration in Alaska has been consulted, and measures being looked at include barriers to stop him boarding the vessels, and acoustic deterrents above and below the waterline.
Dan continued: “No-one has ever been in this situation in this country before, we don’t have animals that are this big. It is extremely unique. However, the health and welfare of the animal and safety of people are paramount.
“It is hoped that by discouraging him from being around the inhabited island, he will choose a more-secluded wild site, and then he will soon be rested enough to continue back north to his native Arctic.”
Photo credit: @barefootislanders