On Monday afternoon, the walrus which has been named Thor was seen resting in Blyth, Northumberland at the harbour on a wooden pontoon before he was filmed diving back into the sea. A crowd quickly gathered to catch a glimpse of the now-famous animal but marine experts have urged the public to leave the creature alone and not to approach it.
Thor became the first walrus ever recorded in Yorkshire in December and drew excited crowds when he was seen in Scarborough on Saturday, New Year’s Eve.
Photographs from the town show Thor lying and napping on a cobbled pavement as cars and crowds surrounded the area only a few feet away to catch a glimpse of the walrus.
Local wildlife experts asked people not to disturb the Arctic walrus as he appeared to be “taking a break” and resting before likely travelling north.
Scarborough council said they postponed their fireworks display for New Year’s Eve as there were concerns the display would distress Thor.
Council leader Steve Siddons said: “We are really disappointed that we’ve had to cancel the fireworks but the welfare of the walrus has to take precedence.”
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR) said the local response to Thor was “an incredible step forward for animal welfare which has been tremendously backed by the public, official parties, and the media”.
The charity reported that up to 500 people went to visit their “unusual visitor” over the weekend, but the number may be closer to 1000.
However, it appears that Thor slept for most of his stay.
A spokesman for the charity said they were told of Thor’s arrival in Scarborough at 11:30pm on December 30, and their initial response was: “Are you joking?”
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The BDLMR also reported that a cheer “erupted” from the crowd when Thor finally woke up from his rest and went into the sea around 4:30pm on December 31 and was then seen travelling north.
Stuart Ford, who runs the local Sealife Safari boat tour agency, described Thor as a “once-in-a-lifetime, first-time-ever thing in Scarborough to see.”
Richard Coulson, a local resident in Scarborough, 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 20ft 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.”
He added: “You respect nature when you see something of that size. Its tusks are bigger than my arms.”
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After his adventure in Scarborough, Thor was seen 70 miles away in Blyth, where experts have said he will likely leave the area on Tuesday at the latest to continue his journey north.
Dan Jarvis, director of welfare and conservation for BDLMR, has said that Thor was “heading in the right direction” but warned walruses being spotted in European waters may be a sign of climate change and loss of sea ice, which walruses use to rest.
He added that while it was “amazing” and a “once in a lifetime experience” to see a walrus in the far south, it was not a good sign.
Mr Jarvis warned that more people visiting Thor could result in the animal being disturbed or even killed, and advised people to keep plenty of space away from him and make sure their dogs are on leads around the walrus.