Fisherman spots 'massive' walrus sunning itself in Scotland's Inner Hebrides

A huge walrus has been spotted sunning itself on Scotland's west coast.

Creel fisherman Lorn MacRae saw the Arctic animal basking in the winter sun on Cairn Na Burgh Beag, a small island which is part of the Treshnish Isles in the Inner Hebrides, on Monday.

Marine conservation charity, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), described the walrus as "massive" after seeing photographs.

HWDT, which has been been monitoring wildlife for 25 years, said Monday's sighting was the first record of a walrus on its database, meaning it is "significant" for the region.

The charity has asked anyone who encounters the animal to report the sighting on the Whale Track app, to allow its movements and overall health to be monitored.

Mr MacRae told the trust: "It was a surprise to see the walrus hauled out."

He added that nearby Atlantic grey seals "seemed to be giving it a wide berth".

HWDT urged people to "maintain a safe and respectful distance" if they do see the marine creature, not to stay more than 15 minutes and limit numbers.

"While this is an exciting sighting, welfare concerns have been raised when walruses have hauled out in more popular areas."

HWDT shared the walrus sighting with their conservation partner the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) which aids marine animals and other species in need of help.

Rescue and community coordinator, Molly Gray, said: "We ask that everyone behaves sensibly and responsibly in response to the news of another walrus in the area, and we advise giving the animal a very wide berth to avoid disturbing it.

"Walruses travel long distances and have rest stops to recover and regain energy before moving on again, and being disturbed by people being too close or noisy will impact its chance of survival."

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It follows a series of recent sightings of animals who have strayed thousands of miles from their traditional Arctic habitat.

A wandering walrus nicknamed Thor was spotted in the Netherlands in November for the first time in 45 years before travelling along the coast of France as far as Brittany.

It hauled up on a beach in Hampshire in December before making another surprise appearance on New Year's Eve in Scarborough - with fireworks in the seaside town cancelled to protect the animal.

Days later it was spotted in Blyth, Northumberland before the same animal is believed to have travelled to Iceland, where it was seen on Friday, 24 February.

HWDT added: "If this is him, he's made an unbelievable journey!"