Don’t approach Wally, urge ecologists

August 21st, 2021 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Wally was spotted lounging on this boat by Michael Kingston who passed him while out early on his own boat on Wednesday morning.

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By Siobhán Cronin
and Kieran O’Mahony

WALLY the Walrus is fast becoming the Fungie of West Cork with his regular ‘appearances’ on the coast – on Wednesday he was photographed on yet another speed boat.

The walrus, who has been holidaying here for almost a week now, was spotted near Schull on Tuesday but on Wednesday had moved even further west.

As wildlife experts warned that large crowds could ‘startle’ Wally, The Southern Star took the decision not to divulge his locations until he had moved on.

But once his location was ‘outed’ on social media, large numbers of people turned up on Wednesday afternoon to photograph him in the sheltered harbour where he was seen lounging on yet another stylish marine craft, having damaged a similar boat belonging to Clonakilty Distillery last week, further east along the coast.

Observers say he has a penchant for these boats because they are easy for him to access when he needs a rest – as the walrus needs regular breaks on land after long periods of swimming.

Seal Rescue Ireland (SRI) put out a call for pontoons or ‘floating couches’  last week in order for Wally to have a resting place. As well as receiving numerous pontoons, they now have in their possession a rib which will be able to support the arctic mammal without sinking, and they can move it to wherever he is spotted.

Melanie Croce, executive director of SRI, said they were working on getting the rib out to him. ‘But he may not stick around,’ she added, ‘because of all of the boats and people swarming him. It has been a major problem all day,’ said Melanie on Wednesday.

She said the public was being urged to keep 100m away from the mammal, who may be in some distress if far from home.

‘People are ignoring the guidelines and it’s not good for him. I’d imagine he might be on the move because of all the harassment. It’s putting him under stress and if startled, he could cause damage to the boats,’ she added.

She urged the public not to approach him and not to reveal his location. ‘We need locals on the ground to help us monitor him, but also protect him from onlookers. There is a level of personal responsibility here, too, where people need to take it upon themselves to be respectful.’

As he moves west from Clonakilty, some observers have wondered if Wally might be moving slowly back to where he was first spotted – off Valentia in Co Kerry in March.

Michael Scully of Clonakilty Distillery said that Wally had been in and out of their boat near Clonakilty four or five times last week.

‘Seal Rescue Ireland had asked us if we could leave the boat in place for him to use until they could secure a pontoon or floating platform and we were happy to do it as he seemed to be happy on it,’ said Michael.

Unfortunately Wally flipped the boat upside down last Thursday.

‘It’s been an unreal story as my sister lives in Minneapolis and people were telling her about it and she was telling them that it was her brother’s boat that Wally had taken a shine to!’ said Michael.

Meanwhile, West Cork journalist Flor McCarthy captured a stunning video of almost  50 bottlenose dolphins at sea near Baltimore last Sunday evening.

She told The Southern Star it was ‘breathtaking and mesmerising’ and said there must have been about 50 dolphins in the pod.

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