Feeling wal-rested? Thor the walrus is spotted lounging on Northumberland pontoon as he appears to make his way back to the Arctic following 3,000-mile journey to shores of Europe and visiting UK for New Year
- The marine mammal delighted crowds in Scarborough, Yorks, on New Year’s Eve
- Appearance came weeks after he was spotted resting up on Southampton beach
- He has now appeared in Blyth, Northumberland, a day after leaving Scarborough
- Thor was also seen off the coast of Netherlands, Belgium and France last month
Celebrity walrus Thor has been spotted resting in a third English coastal town following his 3,000-mile journey from the Arctic to the shores of Europe.
The marine mammal delighted crowds in Scarborough on Friday, weeks after he was spotted resting up on a beach in Southampton.
Thor left Yorkshire last night, with many believing he was heading back to his Arctic home, but he has now reappeared in Blyth, Northumberland.
A large crowd quickly gathered this afternoon when the walrus was spotted resting on a wooden pontoon at a yacht club.
The new sighting comes following a report from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) into his visit to Scarborough, which said up to 500 people were watching his antics at any one time with thousands visiting the scene.
It said most of the public were ‘taking photos and standing in disbelief – presumably floored by seeing a walrus!’.
The report added that Thor moved his position as the tide level moved, with concerns at one point that he was heading towards the public road at the top of the slipway.
It also noted that he ‘demonstrated some natural male behaviour over the evening’.
Thor is believed to have left his home in the Arctic circle earlier this winter and may have travelled from as far as Canada before he was spotted on the coast of Zeeland, in the south east corner of the Netherlands, on November 6.
The Arctic walrus continued his journey along the North Sea towards and was seen along the Belgian coast, before reaching the English Channel and the shores of Dieppe and Brittany in northern France.
Thor was pictured resting ashore at the port of Dieppe, Normandy, with no signs of ill health on November 19.
Local authorities again cordoned off the area from the public with the warning of giving the walrus a wide berth, before he dropped back into the water the following day.
More than three weeks later, the walrus was spotted resting on Calshot Beach in Hampshire.
Thor (pictured today) left Yorkshire last night, with many believing he was heading back to his Arctic home, but he has now reappeared in Blyth
People look at a walrus from a distance at the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club in Blyth this afternoon
Thor the walrus spotted lounging on a pontoon in Blyth, Northumberland, this afternoon
Local wildlife experts asked people not to disturb the creature after saying he appeared to be ‘taking a break’ in Scarborough
The moment Thor finally returned to the sea after resting at the seaside town of Scarborough in Yorkshire
The marine mammal arrived in Scarborough on Friday night and drew huge crowds to the harbour on New Year’s Eve
Scarborough’s New Year fireworks display was cancelled to avoid disturbing or discomforting the walrus
Fisherman Darren McKell was out with his wife Caroline and son Luke in the early hours when they found the ‘big lump’ on December 11.
The 49-year-old said: ‘It was unbelievable and such a shock. I thought it was a seal at first but as I got closer I saw it was huge and it was a walrus.
‘It was absolutely amazing to see something like that, especially in these waters. I hadn’t realised how rare it was to see a walrus here.
‘It was lovely to see but something you’d never expect. I’ve never seen a walrus in the wild as they don’t normally live in these areas. Seeing the walrus was a double-take moment.’
During his time at the Hampshire beach, a video showed the moment the walrus grunted at a group of people who got a little too close.
His sighting was said to be ‘extremely rare’ and he was believed to be heading back to the Arctic circle when he returned to the water hours later.
But Thor reappeared in the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough on New Year’s Eve. It is believed to be the first time a walrus has been spotted in Yorkshire.
Council officials cancelled the town’s New Year fireworks in order to avoid disturbing the mammal, which is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
A BDLMR report published following his departure from the town read: ‘By 4pm (on December 31) Thor was becoming slightly more active, and at 4.30pm he sat up, turned around, and promptly slid off into the harbour.
Thor is believed to have left his home in the Arctic circle earlier this winter and may have travelled from as far as Canada
It is believed to be the first time a walrus has been spotted in Yorkshire, and a cordon was put around him to keep excited crowds from getting too close
‘A cheer erupted from the crowd while BDMLR medics scrambled with radios to track which direction he went. This was assisted by some local youngsters who saw him swimming and we confirmed that he had swam off out of the harbour.’
It said most of the visitors behaved appropriately but police had to deal with ‘a small handful of difficult members of public, and one person breaking cordon and entering private property attempting to access the walrus for photographs’.
The report continued: ‘Kind public asked many questions, offered and brought hot drinks and food, and expressed their appreciation of Thor being protected, with the overwhelming majority being immeasurably respectful to our visitor.
‘At all times the crowd was at least 350 thick, at one point seemingly over 500 people were there with more bodies continually appearing from all avenues, roads, and even bus trips.
‘It is estimated several thousand people were in attendance over the whole day, though likely far more.’
It praised the council for agreeing to its request to cancel the fireworks display.
The report added: BDMLR HQ spoke with the local council and liaison officers who explained the situation regarding fireworks to all council members who without reservation agreed the firework display would likely cause stress and alarm to the walrus, and therefore was cancelled without hesitation.
‘This was an incredible step forward for animal welfare which has been tremendously backed by the public, official parties and the media.’
Humberside Police Sergeant Jenna Jones said: ‘Having starting Operation Seabird on the Yorkshire Coast to prevent disturbances to our seabirds and marine mammals it was an unbelievable privilege to support colleagues and volunteers ensuring Thor was healthy and undisturbed.
‘I thank the public for keeping your distance & all your questions. You certainly tested my walrus knowledge!’
Thor arrived in Scarborough on Friday evening, spending two days resting before returning to the water
The Sea Life Scarborough aquarium said its animal care team monitored the walrus’s situation, along with the RSPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue
Speaking on Saturday, local resident Richard Coulson, 51, said: ‘I live just round the corner from where it actually is and the traffic up and down our road – it’s just like a summer’s day, it really is absolutely teeming with cars and people. It’s amazing how much attention it’s brought.
‘It’s been well protected – it’s been cordoned off so you can’t get within 20 feet of it.
‘It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one. It’s huge. We see seals quite regularly round Scarborough coastline but something of that size, it’s enormous.
‘You respect nature when you see something of that size. Its tusks are bigger than my arms.’
Stuart Ford, who runs the Sealife Safari boat tour agency, said: ‘I was going down to my boat and there it was on the slipway – magnificent. It’s got to be half a ton.
‘I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime, first-time-ever thing in Scarborough to see.’
The Sea Life Scarborough aquarium said its animal care team had monitored the walrus’s situation, along with the RSPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR).
RSPCA inspector Geoff Edmond, who was with the walrus on Friday night and Saturday morning prior to his departure, said it does not appear to be sick or injured, and encouraged people to enjoy the sight from a respectful distance.
Mr Edmond said: ‘We understand it’s exciting and unusual to have the walrus take up a temporary residence, however, it’s in his best interests to be left alone as much as possible, so we’re asking people to remember he is a wild animal and avoid the temptation to get near to him and disturb him.
‘We would also remind everyone that the walrus is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and so disturbing the animal may constitute an offence.’
But Thor finally returned to the water on New Year’s Day, departing to cheers from locals.
Thor the walrus pictured during a brief stop-off at Calshot beach in Hampshire, not far from Southampton
Members of the public line a cordon put in place to protect the marine mammal in Calshot, which is protected under UK law
Beth Clyne, a BDLMR medic, tweeted: ‘Originally from the Arctic, “Thor” the Walrus hauled out on the Harbour slipway at Scarborough Friday night where he remained for c18hrs to rest and regain his energy.
‘Estimated to be around 8yrs old, he’s quite young for a Walrus and may only just be maturing.
‘As Medics, we also devoted a large amount of our time to the public. I really enjoyed talking and educating 100’s upon 100’s of the interested, respectful members of the public. Some were so kind to offer drinks, food and encouraging words to keep us going in the rain and cold!
‘Despite the crowds, he seemed to remain relatively unphased and comfortable although, a couple of times once the tide went out or he fancied a change, he would move from the bumpy cobbles & waddle over to the flatter concrete
She added: ‘After hours of him teasing us (I thought he was going to rest again) I was so excited and relieved when he finally made his way back to sea! We sprinted to the end of the harbour where we watched him surface a few times before disappearing into the darkness.’
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