NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Orkney walrus visitor heads back to the sea

A walrus which turned up on a small Scottish island - in what has been described as a "once-in-a-lifetime" event - has returned to the sea.

The animal, thought to be a young male, was found on the shoreline of North Ronaldsay in Orkney.

Sunday's story became one of the most read on the BBC news website, and the walrus even found itself with its own social media account.

Image caption The walrus had arrived on Sunday but was seen returning to the sea

It has since been seen heading back into the sea.

Wildlife experts said it was extremely unusual for a walrus to be spotted so far south of the North Pole and Arctic Ocean.

The walrus appeared to be in good health.

The large flippered marine mammals, characterised by their long tusks, spend significant amounts of their lives on the sea ice.

Their population dropped rapidly as they were widely killed by humans for their blubber, walrus ivory and meat during the 19th and 20th centuries.

However, their population rebounded after hunting them became largely outlawed.

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