Scarborough harbour authorities were among those ‘tusked’ with dealing with a highly unusual visitor to the harbour’s slipway, reports Paul Scott.
The arrival of Thor, a wandering walrus, drew huge crowds to the harbour in what was an eventful couple of days for the port.
Thor hauled himself out of the water and onto the harbour’s slipway late on Thursday, 30 December. He is believed to be the same juvenile walrus that was spotted resting on a Hampshire beach earlier in December.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) charity, which monitored the walrus along with Scarborough Sea Life Centre and the RSPCA, said the first report of a walrus on the slipway came in at 11.30pm – to an initial response of: “Are you joking?”
As word of the rare visitor spread the following day, crowds of people began gathering at the harbour.
“It is estimated several thousand people were in attendance over the whole day, though likely far more. Thor continued to sleep, having an occasional reposition and brief look around,” said BDMLR.
Given fears that the town’s New Year’s Eve firework celebrations would cause stress and harm to the walrus, the event was ‘cancelled without hesitation’.
At 4.30pm on New Year’s Eve, the walrus, the first ever recorded in Yorkshire, made his way back into the water, and out into the harbour.
BDMLR expressed its gratitude to all those involved, including the local fishing fleet and Scarborough harbour masters, for their assistance in keeping the walrus safe.
On Monday, 2 January, Thor was spotted on a pontoon in Blyth harbour, where he rested overnight before continuing his journey north, and hopefully towards more familiar waters.
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.