In early March of this year, a father and daughter were strolling along Glanleam beach in County Kerry, southwest Ireland, when they spotted an arctic walrus resting on a rock on the coast, in a “state of extreme exhaustion,” experts later found.
Already back in 2018, Russian activists buried a time capsule at the North Pole detailing that in about 30 to 50 years the melting ice caused by climate change in that area would take it somewhere on the planet. Decades ahead of schedule, and in addition to the capsule, the appearance of the Arctic walrus in Ireland is a another worrying sign of the climate crisis.
Without a doubt, nature is sending us warnings about the consequences of the environmental crisis and the impact of human activitiesKevin Flannery, director of the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium in Ireland
The walrus, a young male as big as a bull, fell asleep on an iceberg that, as a result of the melting ice, broke off the Greenland shelf, making an unconscious journey of more than 2,500 kilometers away. He noted that perhaps the Gulf Stream may have transported the block of ice to the shores of County Kerry from somewhere in Greenland, where they feed mainly on island clams.
The first official sighting of a walrus off the Irish coast occurred in 1897, but another walrus was not seen until the 1980s, and since then, “about 20 animals have appeared,” Kevin Flannery said.
Another hypothesis, ventures the oceanographer, raises the possibility that this semi-aquatic mammal, about two meters long and with tusks about 30 centimeters long, became disoriented while following Russian and Norwegian ships fishing in North Atlantic waters.
“The best thing to do now is to leave the walrus alone. A rescue should not be attempted. The animal, as soon as it can eat again and regain its strength, will make its own way home,” said Kevin Flannery. “This is a worrying development because it is either due to climate change or it may be a consequence of the over-exploitation of our seas.”