Where's Wally? Arctic walrus takes up residence in Wales after epic sea trip

As we approach two months since his arrival in Tenby, Katy Dodsworth reports on the Arctic walrus that has found a new home in the UK

Katy Dodsworth
17th May 2021
Wally on the RNLI slipway in Tenby harbour. Photo credit: Gareth Davies Photography, Tenby
An Arctic walrus has taken up residence in a Welsh town after an epic 1,500 mile journey across the sea.

The giant walrus was first spotted in South Pembrokeshire, Wales on the 20th March and has now spent almost two months at Tenby. It is thought to be the same walrus that had been spotted in County Kerry, Ireland the week before.

Wally the Arctic walrus has taken up residence in Tenby harbour, Wales.
Image Credit: Peter Howlett

The huge animal, said to be as big as a cow, has affectionately been named Wally. It is believed to be a young adult and is a long way from it’s home in the Arctic. Originally from Greenland, Wally is thought to have crossed the sea after falling asleep on a floating iceberg. It is also thought that climate change could have played a part in the long trip, as melting sea ice forces walruses to look for food further from home. The WWF say climate change is “the greatest threat” to the animals, who can live to be 40 years old.

Wally swims in the sea.
Image Credit: Gareth Davies Photography, Tenby

It was a very unusual call-out for the RSPCA’s team. RSPCA national wildlife coordinator Geoff Edmond said to BBC Radio 4, "While we’ve been rescuing animals and responding to welfare calls for almost 200 years, I believe this is our first ever walrus call!" Animal rescue officer Ellie West added, "I will certainly never forget this day, in fact it's still sinking in that I've been monitoring a walrus on the Pembrokeshire coast."

Wally’s fame has attracted many visitors to the area, hoping to get a glimpse

After first being spotted near Broad Haven South beach, the walrus moved to Tenby harbour, where he has now spent several weeks. He briefly disappeared on Easter Monday but returned four days later. Whilst residing in Tenby, Wally has been getting up to some mischief. One morning, onlookers reported seeing the animal capsize a dingy as he tried to get aboard a fishing boat that was moored in the harbour. Beachgoer Martyn Thomas told the BBC the creature “had its flippers right up to the deck. It was like it wanted to get aboard."

Wally on some rocks near Broad Haven South beach, where he was first spotted.
Photo Credit: Emma Ryan, My Pembrokeshire

Wally’s fame has attracted many visitors to the area, hoping to get a glimpse. However, this has a downside as people getting too near can be disturbing for the walrus. Animal welfare and conservation groups, including the RSPCA, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby's Harbour Master, Tenby Lifeboat Service, Natural Resources Wales, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and CSIP Marine Environmental Monitoring, have issued a joint statement asking the public to remember Wally is a wild animal and not get too close.

Photo Credit: Emma Ryan, My Pembrokeshire
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