Animal welfare groups are urging people not to approach Wally the Walrus amid fears he has injured himself climbing on-board boats in Cork.
The Arctic walrus has caused great excitement since he was first spotted off the coast of Valentia Island in March.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Executive Director of Seal Rescue Ireland (SRI) Melanie Croce said he was visibly injured, agitated and stressed when spotted off the cost of Cork yesterday.
She urged people who come across him to go no closer than 100 metres and not to post his location publicly.
“It is very exciting to have a walrus in our waters,” she said. “That is very, very rare for us and I can understand the curiosity but we just need to remember that he is not here to provide entertainment, he is actually just trying to survive.
“He has been displaced from his natural habitat which could be due to climate change and loss of sea ice but the fact of the matter is he needs to make his way back home and the only way that is going to happen is if he is able to rest and gather enough strength.
“Unfortunately, wherever he seems to show up, he is just getting swarmed by boats and people sticking cameras in his face – we have even had people trying to climb up onto the boat with him.
“So, he hasn’t had a chance to rest. He is constantly having to get on and off the boat and it may have caused an injury yesterday; there were some sharp objects in the boat.”
She said most people are being respectful of him but others are circling the boats he gets onto and “coming right up to him.”
“We just really want to stress to the public, if you are lucky enough to see the walrus, please respect him from a distance of at least 100 metres,” she said.
“You can enjoy seeing him with a binoculars or with zoom lenses but please don’t share his exact location publicly because when the word gets out, it just gets really dangerous.
“It can cause injury to him; it can cause injury to people and of course injury to property.”
Ms Croce said Seal Rescue Ireland has provided him a designated boat in the hope he will stop climbing up onto private boats on his travels.
She said he has sunk a number of people’s boats so far and the group is doing everything it can to “give him a peaceful place to rest so hopefully he can make it on his way.”
“He is in a lot of fluctuation about his weight and he may have some injuries now just from all the stress and agitation so we want what is best for him,” she said.
“We are asking the public to work with us on that and to please report any sightings to our 24-hour hotline.”
Wally has been spotted off the coasts of a number of other countries in recent weeks and Ms Croce said he needs to get back to Arctic waters as soon as possible.
People who see Wally are urged to contact the SRI Rescue Hotline on 087 1955393.
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