In the middle of May 2018, the Caithness sea-watching page on Facebook went mad. Not because dolphins or whales had been spotted (which is quite normal up here at this time of year) but because there was a real-life walrus, in Wick!
Affectionately known as Wally, his movements around the north coast of Caithness and Sutherland had been followed in the last couple of months, as Wally had stopped off at Orkney, Dunnet, and Kinlochbervie. Everyone was wondering where he would turn up next!
I raced down with my camera to join the crowds – obviously, a lot of people had heard the news, as there were around 200 people all craning to get a sight of the walrus.
As he was a sole traveller, he was pretty chilled out (if you want to see a herd of walruses looking pretty ferocious, check out this BBC Earth video!) …
…and basking in the warm evening sunshine, occasionally flapping his flippers in the incoming tide. Everyone was joking that due to living in the arctic, Wally had come down to Scotland for this summer holiday!
As the tide was coming in, every so often, the walrus would haul himself further up the stony beach. As a walrus can weigh up to a ton (100kg) this is no mean feat!
As he moved, we got a good view of those enormous tusks and long whiskers.
It was quite staggering to see and lovely particularly for children who were getting particularly excited at this potentially once in a lifetime experience. Adults were too, as there was no sense of when Wally might get fed up and find a new place to sunbathe!
We visited again the following day, where he was doing much of the same, before leaving Wick that evening. He was next spotted about a fortnight ago in Shetland, so he’s obviously heading back north to the arctic!