Rare Arctic walrus spotted off the coast of Ireland may have drifted far from home during a nap, one expert said

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This April 13, 2004 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows a large Pacific bull walrus on ice in the Bering Sea.

  • An Arctic walrus found itself thousands of miles from home this weekend off the coast of Ireland.
  • Marine biologists agree the walrus is likely quite young based on the size of its tusks.
  • One expert theorized the animal drifted far from home after falling asleep on an iceberg
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Thousands of miles from the Arctic Circle most walruses call home, one young marine mammal was spotted off the coast of Ireland’s County Kerry Sunday by a local father and daughter duo.

Five-year-old Muireann and her father Alan Houlihan were walking Ireland’s Valentia Island on a Sunday stroll when Muireann spotted the giant creature breaching out of the water and onto the rocks.

Houlihan told the Irish Examiner they first thought the creature was a seal before spotting its tusks, and said the walrus was massive in size, about the size of “a bull or cow.”

“He was sitting on the rock now kind of posing, at one stage there he threw up a fin and it looked like he was giving us all the birdie,” Houlihan told the outlet.

Marine biologists agreed the walrus was likely quite young based on the size of its tusks. Many scientists also emphasized how rare it was for a walrus to be so far south, despite the animal’s ability to travel vast distances.

“It’s a long way from home but it seems like a fit, fat, young walrus, which may be capable of making it home,” Peter Richardson, head of ocean recovery at the Marine Conservation Society told the Daily Mail.

Another marine biologist, Kevin Flannery of Dingle Oceanworld, has his own theory for how the Arctic animal found itself so far from home.

“He’s from the Arctic. I’d say what happened is he fell asleep on an iceberg and drifted off and then he was gone too far, out into the mid-Atlantic or somewhere like that down off Greenland possibly,” Flannery told the Independent.

He said the animal would be “pretty tired” and “pretty hungry” after his long voyage.

But Tom Arnbom, a senior advisor to WWF on the Arctic disagreed. The wildlife expert told BBC News the walrus likely deliberately ventured away from its home seeking food off the Irish coast.

“Often it is adolescent animals that venture on long trips” to find new areas to breed, he told the outlet.

Arnbom said the animals have to come up to the shallows in order to eat mussels and clams of which they eat up to several thousand a day.

“It is lost while it is far from any friends, but I am not afraid that it will die,” Arnbom told the BBC.

Flannery and Arnbom both expressed hope that the young walrus would eventually find his way back to his North Atlantic home.

Experts warned the public to keep their distance from the giant animal to avoid scaring the creature and endangering themselves.

The BBC reported there were no sightings of the animal in the area Monday, but Richardson told the Daily Mail there are plenty of mollusks for the hungry walrus to feed on in the vicinity and it’s possible the creature is underwater out of sight, but still in the area.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said this marks only the third validated sighting of a walrus in the country since 1999.

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Facebook to shut down Irish holding companies amid disputes over tax payments in Europe

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Facebook logo is seen displayed on a phone screen in photo taken in Poland on November 29, 2020.

  • Facebook is shutting down its Irish subsidiary following mounting pressure from regulators over the way it pays taxes in the EU. 
  • The firm’s Irish holding company brought in around $30 billion of revenue in 2018 – more than half of the firm’s total annual turnover of $56 billion. 
  • A Facebook spokesperson said the move was ‘consistent with recent and upcoming tax law changes’ advocated by policymakers around the world. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook is winding down its Irish holding company in light of wider disputes over the way it pays taxes in the the European Union. 

In 2018, the social networking giant’s Irish subsidiary paid just $101 million in tax, while recording profits of more than $15 billion. 

The subsidiary, Facebook International Holdings I Unlimited Company, also brought in around $30 billion of revenue, accounting for more than half of the firm’s total annual turnover of $56 billion. 

In a statement to The Times in London, a Facebook spokesperson said the Irish entity “was wound up as part of a change that best aligns with our operating structure.” They added: “We believe it is consistent with recent and upcoming tax law changes that policymakers are advocating for around the world.”

Big Tech companies face mounting pressure on the continent, where regulators are reevaluating the responsibilities large platforms should have on everything from data-sharing to misinformation

At the end of last year, Google moved its own intellectual property holdings from Ireland back to the US, after regulators moved to phase out a loophole allowing US companies to delay paying taxes. 

The tax strategy was legal and allowed Google to avoid triggering US income taxes, or European withholding taxes on the funds, which represent the bulk of its overseas profits.

Facebook’s decision comes just months after the firm launched legal action against Ireland’s data regulator, which is also trying to prevent EU user data being sent across to the US. 

The firm’s lawyer Paul Sreenan told Ireland’s High Court the decision could have “devastating consequences” and mean Facebook’s core app and Instagram being kicked out of the EU all together. 

Business Insider approached Facebook for further comment. 

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