St. Patrick's Day was yesterday. And while Ireland certainly couldn't hold its usual celebrations (thank you, pandemic), it did get one visitor eager to experience the holiday firsthand.
Okay, it is a bit of a stretch to say that. But it is true that a young walrus mysteriously arrived on a beach on Valentia Island in southwestern Ireland.
The unexpected guest was spotted by a 5-year-old girl named Muireann Houlihan. She was out for a walk with her father, Alan, when she noticed something peculiar. Her quote sort of says it all.
First to spot the Arctic Walrus on Valentia island... a day 5 year old Muireann Houlihan will never forget.
— Seán Mac an tSíthigh (@Buailtin) March 15, 2021
Well, that would certainly make your walk worth talking about! And speaking of things worth talking about, we have a question.
What was the young walrus doing there?
A snooze gone wrong?
In general, walrus live exclusively in the Arctic. Things means places like Nunavut, Greenland, Alaska, Russia, and Norway—all much further north than southern Ireland. A few walruses have been spotted there in the past, but not many.
Exhausted Arctic walrus spotted on Valentia Island #Kerry today far,far from home. Rare but not unusual sight by all accounts - first official walrus sighting here on the Shannon in 1897. (Footage thanks to Seánie Murphy/Valentia) @RTEnews pic.twitter.com/yrdQR1Ibam
— JennïeØSullivân (@OSullivanJennie) March 14, 2021
So how did it get so far away from home? A marine biologist with the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium named Kevin Flannery has a theory.
"I'd say what happened is, he fell asleep on an iceberg and drifted off," he guessed in a interview with The Independent, "and then he was gone too far, out into the mid-Atlantic or somewhere like that, down off Greenland possibly."
If you care to grab a map, that's a massive journey. Icebergs are a common resting spot for these animals, so this is certainly possible. Thankfully, the animal is now back on dry land in an area rich in shellfish, a favourite walrus treat.
"If he regains his strength," Flannery added in the article, "hopefully he'll make his way back."
Here's hoping so. Good luck, young walrus!