European summer holidays are a dream for most people. Rest will undoubtedly take you to majestic places to forget about your worries for a moment. Bathing in the rays of the warm sun in coastal cities and on islands with beautiful water turns a vacation into a healing journey. Not to mention the friendships you can make with people you meet during the holidays. And for some tourists or locals who met Wally the Walrus, it was the turn of his journey and a story worthy of attention.
Wally is a friendly walrus who surprises tourists on his boats or yachts. Apparently, this is an Atlantic seal that went on vacation to Europe in 2021. His vacation lasted six months in Western Europe, where he met many people because of his unexpected visits. Wally’s first route was through Ireland. People were fascinated by his appearance, as Wally was the first walrus to be seen there. That’s why Seal Rescue Island took part in keeping Wally safe in uncharted waters.
“It was exciting, but also very sad because I shouldn’t have been here,” said Melanie from Seal Rescue Island. “He just stays and enjoys the sun. A lot is going on. I think everyone was fascinated. It was a blessing and a curse, because I didn’t realize that being around us was very peril.”In addition to the perils of approaching people, the main concern of the rescue team was that Wally would not be able to find a safe place to rest. Since this place was not their natural habitat, their survival could be at peril. The Seal Island Rescue immediately came up with a plan, and it was to provide a safe place for Wally to appear.
A few days after, Wally continued his journey and stayed in Wales. Thanks to his striking appearance, another rescue allowed Wally to be safe during his research. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue Service has created the materials as a message of public interest to anyone who has ever met a traveling walrus. They had to place reminders in different places about what to do and what to do when Wally was around.
“He was not afraid that people would approach him or squeeze between people and drag him to the ports. Therefore, a lot of effort has been made to let people know how we should act around them to keep them safe,” explained Dan from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue Service. All the organizations involved in Wally’s safety followed him throughout his journey. But after his performance in Cornwall, he disappeared. Fortunately, he was found in La Rochelle, and he sailed to Spain.
This became even more alarming when the team concluded that Wally was going further south, which was the wrong direction for him. Perhaps the traveling walrus was just exploring places or looking for his fellow walruses. However, after Spain, Wally disappeared again, this time for two weeks. But then reports showed that he made a stop at the Silling Islands. There was no stopping Wally, and he became more determined to go boating. According to Dan, they assume that Wally jumped into the boats because walruses are lying on floating ice in the Arctic.
Other problems started to arise when Wally started influencing people’s businesses. “As soon as he started sinking on the ships, we were more and more afraid that someone would hurt him,” says Melanie. BDMLR thought of a plan to keep Wally out of peril: a pontoon could be the right solution. Fortunately, Wally got used to the floating bed and rested on it a lot. His journey didn’t end there when he returned to Ireland, and he alerted rescuers when they couldn’t find Wally for several days, especially during a storm.
Aid organizations have received information about one walrus in Iceland. After looking closely at the photos, it was a relief to find out that it was Wally. His return to Iceland was a good sign as he was moving in the right direction. At the moment, he could return to the Arctic unharmed with his fellow walruses. Wally’s trip to Europe was a mixture of surprise and concern. It was incredible that he had survived a journey into uncharted waters with the possibility that people might harm him. But in the end she had to miss home, and she realized that those six months were enough.
Surprisingly, another walrus was also spotted in European waters, his name was Freya. The female walrus has been traveling much longer than Wally, starting in 2019. According to Melanie, Freya went on the same journey as Wally, and they were both not afraid of people. Melanie explained that walruses are naturally friendly animals and can fearlessly interact with people.
Unfortunately, Freya’s end was not like Wally’s: she could not return home. “We were absolutely devastated to learn that the Norwegian Fisheries Agency decided to sacrifice Freya. Obviously, this was done in order to prevent possible issue to members of the public who refused to keep a safe distance from her,” Melanie said. Both rescue teams believe that it was useless, and this could have been avoided with good crowd management.
The story of these two walruses can serve as a lesson. If an unfamiliar animal appears in your house, you should keep your distance. They are not attractive and are probably just as confused as you are. Rescuers hope that Freya will become the last walrus whose life will be in human hands. Let the walrus travelers find their way home on their own and inform the aid organizations to solve the problems in the safest way possible.