The Arrival of a Wandering Walrus Causes a Splash

Cute visitor enchants locals after swimming off course.

Feb 5, 2023
The Arrival of a Wandering Walrus Causes a Splash | Cute visitor enchants locals after swimming off course.

There’s something very endearing about walruses. These “moustached”, long-tusked sea mammals have an almost comical gait when ashore, according to Treehugger. Males can weigh up to 1.5 tons and reach up to almost 12 feet in length. These majestic creatures are usually found lying on the ice around the Arctic Circle with hundreds of companions. But one roving juvenile male walrus, Thor, delighted locals in the Yorkshire town of Scarborough recently, when he turned up, dozing on their harbour doorstep, far from his usual Scandinavian stomping ground.

Thor shows up in a Yorkshire seaside town
Thor’s unexpected, flying visit saw residents and tourists hurrying to see the first ever sighting of a walrus in the vicinity. Why the rush?  According to vlogger,  Travel with Jodie, it’s because there have only been 27 walruses spotted in the UK in the last 130 years. 

When this wandering walrus appeared suddenly, local wildlife experts were quick to reassure everyone that he appeared to be in good health, but asking them to give Thor some space. They explained that Thor is a member of a protected species,  and put a cordon around him to keep the  crowds at arm’s length. It was vital, they explained, that Thor be left in peace to conserve and boost his energy, so he could make the long journey back home. He was, they said,  simply “taking a break” in their town, and that he would move  on once rested.

Sharing her take on the surprise guest, Molly Gray, the rescue and community organiser of the  British Divers Marine life Rescue (BDMLR) told The Northern Echo that: “We think he's visiting due to climate change - walruses live in the Arctic and we think because the ice caps are melting, that's why he's travelled so far south."

Mayor of Scarborough, Eric Broadbent, tells Sky News in our video, that Thor’s visit is “A first for Scarborough, and I believe a first for Yorkshire as well. We’re very proud that he chose Scarborough to have a nap.” 

The town even cancelled its New Year’s Eve firework display to avoid distressing its rare tourist, a decision praised in multiple video talkbacks and by several organizations. BDMLR was among them, thanking the local council for agreeing to its cancellation request: “This was an incredible step forward for animal welfare which has been tremendously backed by the public, official parties and the media,” a spokesperson said, as reported on Metro news.

Thor’s well-documented grand tour of Europe
As our video outlines, after leaving his glacial homeland, Thor was first seen in Zeeland, in the Netherlands, before swimming past Belgium and into France. Swimming across the English Channel, he was spotted at Calshot, in Hampshire, around 100 miles south of Yorkshire, before his Scarborough appearance, three days later, which lasted an estimated 18 hours.

“He’s off course, yeah. For some reason, he’s decided to leave the Arctic, to go for a wonder… now he’s heading back north in the right direction, up to where he belongs,”  Geoff Edmond, Inspector for the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), explained.

Next stop, Blyth
After stealing the hearts of locals in Scarborough, Thor’s next stop was Blyth, Northumberland, another 100 miles further north, where he parked himself for a day’s well-earned rest, lounging  on a wooden pontoon at the yacht club, as reported by the Guardian. Once again, excited crowds of locals came to see this reclining marvel for themselves.

According to the Facebook page of the Hampshire and low News, Thor's Twitter page, Thoronatour, said: "Hey Guys, I have stopped for a nap in Blyth, Northumberland today, shouldn't be here too long. I am heading home slowly but be patient. It's a long swim."

Thor has since left Blyth, and while his whereabouts are still unknown, as he has not been fitted with a tracker, he is assumed to be Arctic Circle-bound, to be reunited with his huddle of walruses. 

Summing up the feelings of many in the UK and beyond, one comment on the Newcastle Chronicle’s Facebook page reads: “Awww love this, safe travels buddy.”

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.