Two different walrus seen in British waters this year – future? Might they become native once again?

I wrote back in March about a Walrus that was seen around Ireland for some time.

There were 2 walrus in British waters last year, a male and a female. The last male walrus and his harem of 3 females were killed back in 1847. Both walrus are thought to be young.

2 Walrus in a country of ours is not many. Indeed, 2 walrus in the waters of the British Isles is very few. However, if the same 2 walrus were to return next year and meet, it is not impossible that young walrus result. This could become the start of a new walrus colony.

We do not think of the UK as an Arctic country, but we are a natural part of the Walrus range so the natural return of these animals would be very positive.

Could Walrus return, and thrive here? could we have a population of hundreds of walrus in a few decades? The advantage of sea-faring mammals, is that they can return on their own. Walrus can be dangerous if humans get too close, never-the-less the risk of harm to humans is incredibly low, indeed far different to that of wolves and bears (and the risks of injury from these species are already very low). The return of walrus can only be good. They are essential for a healthy sea ecosystem, in the same way that land based carnivores are also needed.

Were a male and a female walrus to meet somewhere remote on the coast of Scotland, I could well imagine it being the start of a Walrus colony in the UK once again. The last dominant male and his 3 sows were killed about 150 years ago, it is about time that this animal would return. Walrus have significant impacts on ecosystems that they live in. Indeed, they do so much, that they are known are keystone species. so their permanent return would be highly positive. Importantly, as they prefer feeding at the bottom of shallow waters, eating clams, molluscs, worms, snail, soft shell crabs, shrimps and sea cucumbers, they are not generally competing with any of the species that humans harvest.

I hope to be able to report on more similar visits in the near future.

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