Scanning the rocky coastline of Scotland, a local fisherman spotted an unusual visitor stretched out in the sun.
“It was a surprise to see the walrus hauled out,” the fisherman Lorn Macrae told the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in a Monday, Feb. 27, news release. “The Atlantic gray seals seemed to be giving it a wide berth.”
Macrae snapped some photos of the “massive” creature and reported it to the local marine organization, according to the release.
The walrus was spotted on the tiny island of Cairn na Burgh Beag, a part of the Hebrides archipelago along the western coast of Scotland. The island is about 520 miles northwest of London.
“Walruses are rare visitors to Scottish shores,” marine experts said. This is the first recorded sighting of a walrus along the western coast of Scotland in over 25 years, the organization said.
Recently, a large male walrus, nicknamed “Thor,” has been spotted along the coast of the Netherlands, France, England and Iceland, experts said. Identified by his distinctive flipper markings, Thor was last seen along the coast of Iceland on Feb. 24.
Marine experts don’t know if the walrus seen in the Hebrides is Thor. “If this is him, he’s made an unbelievable journey,” the organization said.
There are two species of walrus — the Atlantic and Pacific — named for the areas they inhabit, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The Pacific walrus roams from Russia to the western coast of the U.S. The Atlantic walrus can be found in the northern coast of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia.
“There’s thought to be around 25,000 Atlantic and around 200,000 Pacific walrus in the wild,” the World Wildlife Fund reported.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust urged people to remain respectful of the Arctic visitor by staying a considerable distance from the animal, not watching it for too long and not gathering in large numbers.
“Walruses travel long distances and have rest stops to recover and regain energy before moving on again,” Molly Gray with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said in the release. “Being disturbed by people being too close or noisy will impact (the walrus’) chance of survival.”