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Scarborough’s New Year’s Eve fireworks cancelled to protect walrus resting in harbour


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carborough’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display was cancelled on Saturday to help protect a walrus that has arrived in the town’s harbour.

The marine mammal appeared in the seaside town on Friday night – in what is believed to be a first for Yorkshire – and drew huge crowds to the harbour on New Year’s Eve.

The Arctic walrus is believed to be Thor – the same animal that was spotted on the Hampshire coastline earlier this month.

(Stuart Ford/PA)

/ PA Media

As towns and cities across the UK and the rest of the world saw in the new year with spectacular fireworks displays on Saturday, Scarborough did not.

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Scarborough Borough Council cancelled the North Yorkshire town’s display on the advice of British Divers Marine Life Rescue after the organisation expressed concerns that it could cause “distress” to the mammal.

Council leader Steve Siddons told the BBC that while he was disappointed, “the welfare of the walrus has to take precedence”.

Local wildlife experts have asked people not to disturb the creature, saying he appears to be “taking a break” in Scarborough and is likely to move on in a few days once he is rested enough to continue his journey north.

PA

It is believed to be the first time a walrus has been spotted in Yorkshire, and a cordon has been put around him to keep excited crowds from getting too close.

Resident Richard Coulson, 51, said: “We see seals quite regularly round Scarborough coastline but something of that size, it’s enormous.

“You respect nature when you see something of that size. Its tusks are bigger than my arms.”

Stuart Ford, who runs the Sealife Safari boat tour agency, described the creature as “magnificent”.

“It’s got to be half a tonne,” he said. “I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime, first-time-ever thing in Scarborough to see.”

The Sea Life Scarborough aquarium said its animal care team is monitoring the walrus’s situation, along with the RSPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

They wrote on social media: “Please do not worry – he appears well and is just taking a well deserved rest after his long adventure!

“Please be respectful of his rest and try not to disturb him. While it is a very exciting opportunity for us, naturally they do not like lots of noise and are not familiar with domestic animals so please keep pets on leads and remain a safe distance for your own welfare and his.

“Hopefully within a few days he will have got enough rest to move on and continue his adventures North!”

RSPCA inspector Geoff Edmond, who was with the walrus on Friday night and Saturday morning, said it does not appear to be sick or injured, and encouraged people to enjoy the sight from a respectful distance.

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