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A walrus has been spotted on the western coast of Ireland.
The large marine mammal caught the attention of a father and his young daughter while they were out walking on Sunday, 14 March.
The walrus had pulled itself onto rocks at Valentia Island in Country Kerry.
Although they are a rare sighting, walrus have been spotted in Ireland before, and they are also occasional visitors to Scotland. The animals are known vagrants and will travel for many miles in search of food.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says, 'We would ask members of the public fortunate enough to see it, to observe this wayward traveller from a safe distance and to give it the space it requires and submit any subsequent sightings to the IWDG sighting scheme.'
IWDG confirmed a Walrus sighting from Valentia. Co. Kerry earlier today. We would like to thank Alan Houlihan Who reported this sighting to us today March 14th 2021 from west of Knightstown, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry. pic.twitter.com/YxawS9Q4z2— Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (@IWDGnews) March 14, 2021
There are two subspecies of walrus, the Atlantic and Pacific, and both usually live in the Arctic. They can grow to enormous sizes: male Pacific walruses can reach 1.5 tonnes in weight.
According to Ireland's National Biodiversity Data Centre, there have been at least eight sightings of walrus in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland since 1979. An unverified sighting was reported in Dursey Sound, County Cork in the 1920s.
Marine mammal charity ORCA Ireland said the walrus in County Kerry is not in good nutritional condition and may not survive.
Walrus sighted in Co. Kerry! This Arctic species is not in good nutritional condition and we can expect it will likely pass away in the coming days. Hopefully it won’t but please let us know if and when this animal passes so we can further investigate. @CitizenW0lf @seal_rescue https://t.co/tn6kbIDKdc— ORCAIreland (@ORCA_Ireland) March 14, 2021
The walrus was first spotted by Alan Houlihan, who sent footage to the IWDG.
The IWDG posted on Facebook, 'Given the size of this specimen, which Alan estimates was at least two metres, and the presence of tusks, we can say with some confidence that it is a young adult specimen, however it's not possible to determine gender as both males and females have tusks.'
As of Monday morning, the walrus hadn't been seen again.