A wandering walrus on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula is attracting a lot of attention, despite wildlife officials asking people to give him his space.
Middle Cove Beach in the town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove is a popular spot in the area, especially in June or July for the annual capelin roll, as locals collect the fish after they spawn.
But this weekend’s visitor was a little bigger than a capelin.
An Atlantic walrus, possibly a juvenile due to the medium size and smaller tusks, was spotted basking on the beach on Saturday.
One person who saw the walrus on Saturday was photographer Alick Tsui, who was hiking in Logy Bay when he was told the walrus had arrived via social media.
“To see a walrus in person, to see the enormity of the creature and the texture of the skin and its tusks, it’s amazing. And I don’t have to go anywhere in Russia or Alaska to see a walrus is here in our backyard in Newfoundland,” he said.
Tsui said the sight had already drawn a crowd when he arrived at the beach late Saturday afternoon, but people seemed to be keeping their distance.
“You have to stay a safe distance out of harm’s way because a walrus is a wild animal,” Tsui said, “so you never know how a wild animal might react to human bullying. So I think we got together. very well behaved.”
Fishery officers ask viewers to keep their distance
Although not uncommon, having a walrus this far south is rare.
On Sunday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans posted a light-hearted tweet, asking people to let him enjoy his nap.
Crowds of people continued to flock to the beach to see the animal, prompting the department to place a pair of guard officers and ask the crowd to keep a safe distance.
In an email to CBC News on Sunday, DFO said fishery officers are on the beach to protect both walruses and people, and will ensure walruses have free access to water. . DFO researchers also visited the beach.
The department said it’s not unusual for walruses to sleep and bask in the sun, but although they’re often docile, they can be dangerous and can move on land as fast as a running human. .
“We understand people are excited to see this walrus. It’s a rare occurrence here, but people should stay away from walrus and frankly, leave it alone,” a DFO spokesperson said.
The department said marine mammals are subject to the provisions of the Marine Mammal Regulations under the Fisheries Act, which require people to stay at least 100 meters away from a walrus.
But as of Sunday afternoon, the walrus only seemed interested in sand and sun. Tsui said the walrus seemed to be having fun.
“A lot of people thought the walrus was in distress. Apparently it got checked out and appears to be in good shape and just trying to have a lazy day on the beach so Newfoundlanders can watch it.”