Exciting news for anyone who's been following Wally's journey since he first landed on our shores last year.
A female walrus has been spotted off the coast of Germany, according to Seal Rescue Ireland. As there hadn't been a sighting of Wally in Irish waters since the 29th of August it was initially thought that it could be him, considering the distances he's covered in the past (those long naps obviously pay off).
However, upon closer inspection SRI confirmed this wasn't the Wally we've grown to know and love:
Also a young juvenile, identifiable by different scarring patterns on the flippers, she's also been identified as female. Everyone, meet Wanda!
I can only assume you're all thinking the exact same thing as me - when can she and Wally meet? Does she also like pontoons? Can we organise some sort of meet cute on a speed boat off the coast of West Cork?
While we're asking all the important questions and wondering what type of hat one wears to a walrus wedding, The SRI provided an important reminder:
As sea ice melts due to climate change, Arctic species like Walruses, Ringed seals, Hooded Seals and Bearded seals, are becoming displaced from their native habitat and will increasingly seek refuge in new areas such as Ireland and other parts of Europe. Currently, there is no blanket legal protection for all Marine Mammals in Ireland, as only Cetaceans (all whales and dolphins) and the specifically listed species of Pinnipeds (Grey Seals and Common Seals) are mentioned under current legislation.
With this said, Orca Ireland have launched a petition calling for the protection of all pinnipeds such as Wally and Wanda that are observed in Irish waters under the Wildlife Act of 1976. If you're interested in keeping our arctic visitors safe, you can sign the petition HERE.
Header image via Instagram/sealrescueireland