Wally the walrus is to be given a 'floating couch' in order to stop him from sinking boats.
According to the Irish Examiner, the Arctic walrus caused thousands of euros of damage to a number of small boats last month after climbing onto the vessels to rest, as the semi-aquatic mammals cannot rest in the water.
Wally was first spotted off the coast of Co Kerry in March and has become a regular visitor along the south coast ever since.
Seal Rescue Ireland (SRI) made an appeal for an unused rib or a large pontoon to be donated which could be used as a designated resting spot for Wally. The group have been liaising with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) which set up a floating pontoon off the Isles of Scilly in July when he ventured there.
Local celebrity Wally the Walrus, was spotted climbing into a boat in Ardmore Bay, Ireland pic.twitter.com/4swbTWtGnV
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 9, 2021
SRI's Melanie Croce said the group have now secured a floating pontoon for Wally, which has three raised sides which makes it resemble a couch.
The pontoon is now ready to be deployed in busy harbour areas over the coming days if the walrus returns. It is hoped that towels used to catch Wally's scent from the small vessels which he boarded last month will help encourage Wally to use the pontoon.
Ms Croce said the SRI have also secured the use of a disused rib which is easier to transport and install, but their response will depend on where and when the walrus is next sighted.
“We have never done this before so there are lots of learnings as we go," Ms Croce said.
“We would like to be able to let him to continue his natural behaviours but when word gets out about his location, a situation arises where we have to intervene.
“We only step in when human interactions with him threaten to disturb him. Our priority is the animal’s welfare,” she added.
Anyone who spots Wally is asked to contact the SRI's 24-hour hotline on 087-195 5393. They are also asked not to share his location publicly until a designated haul-out site is established for him.