Thor the walrus delights crowds with fresh seaside visit

Yorkshire: Walrus delights locals after appearing in seaside town

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Thor the walrus has returned to British shores 70 miles up the coast days after forcing the cancellation of a New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Scarborough. The massive marine mammal – likely to weigh upwards of 3,000lbs – was filmed returning to the sea on Saturday – but swiftly returned to land at Blyth harbour in Northumberland.

He is believed to be the same animal who was spotted in Hampshire in December, in which case he is making his way up Britain’s east coast at a fairly leisurely pace.

Members of the public are being urged to leave Thor, who arrived in Blyth at midday yesterday, in peace.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR) has been monitoring his progress as he travels.

Thor, who is believed to be between three and five years old, and whose favourite foods are cockles, clams and muscles, appears to be fit and healthy, said BDLMR director of welfare and conservation Dan Jarvis.

He stressed that Thor was “heading in the right direction” and would “hopefully” leave Blyth today to continue his journey north to his Arctic habitat.

Walruses are becoming increasingly common in European waters, Mr Jarvis explained, a possible sign of climate change causing a loss of sea ice which walruses use in order to rest up after eating.

While it was “amazing” and a “once in a lifetime experience” to see walruses in the UK, it was not therefore a good sign, he warned.

Excessive contact with people risked disturbing the animals and could prove fatal, as was the case with another walrus, Freya, who was eventually put down by the Norwegian authorities.

Mr Jarvis appealed to members of the public to resist to temptation to go and see Thor, and also emphasised the need to give him plenty of space and keep dogs on their leads.

A lengthy statement about Thor’s arrival in Scarborough was shared on BDLMR’s website.

With respect to the scrapped display, it said: “Officers 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.”

It added: “BDMLR would like to extend their immense gratitude to everybody involved including our Marine Mammal Medics attending, Scarborough Sealife, Scarborough Council, North Yorkshire Police and all Officers, RSPCA, and Scarborough Harbour Masters incredible efforts to keep this juvenile walrus safe and undisturbed.

“Their positive actions have been an enormous achievement and hopefully will pave the way for such a response should it be needed again.”

Humberside Police Sergeant Jenna Jones (Operation Seabird national policing lead) added: “Having starting Operation Seabird on the Yorkshire Coast to prevent disturbances to our seabirds & marine mammals it was an unbelievable privilege to support colleagues and volunteers ensuring Thor was healthy & undisturbed.

“I thank the public for keeping your distance and all your questions. You certainly tested my walrus knowledge! In 2023 I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with BDMLR for the benefit of our marine wildlife.”

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