Highlands & Islands

Arctic walrus 'Wally' spotted on Isle of Harris

Walrus on Harris Image copyright Neil Morrison
Image caption A picture by Neil Morrison, from Harris, of the walrus

An Arctic walrus has been spotted on the Isle of Harris in the Western Isles.

It is the same animal that was seen in North Ronaldsay and Sanday, in Orkney, at Armadale in Sutherland, and Dunnet Head in Caithness in March.

The last time a walrus had been spotted on the Scottish mainland was in 1954.

The walrus, nicknamed Wally, is also believed to be same the walrus that was sighted recently on the Isle of Skye .

Marine wildlife charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) has asked that people keep their distance from the walrus to avoid disturbing it.

Facts on walrus:

  • Usually found in the Arctic, but also outside the Arctic Circle in parts of North America, Russia and Asia
  • Tusks used for keeping breathing holes in ice open, for fighting and hauling themselves out of the water
  • They feed on shellfish, using their whiskers to find their prey on the seabed
Image copyright Neil Morrison
Image caption The walrus is thought to be the same one seen in Orkney, Sutherland and Caithness

BDMLR has been monitoring wandering Wally.

A spokesman said: "It has lost a bit of weight.

"We are monitoring its welfare as when it is spotted.

"Its survival really depends on available food - walruses are also bottom feeders - but unconfirmed reports suggest it is feeding, so hopefully it will do okay."

Image copyright Neil Morrison
Image caption The walrus has lost weight since it was first spotted in Orkney

Last month, a bearded seal, another Arctic animal, was seen on Harris.

There have only about 20 recorded sightings of bearded seals in the UK.

Image copyright BDMLR
Image caption The bearded seal on Harris in an image from British Divers Marine Life Rescue

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