Emerson the elephant seal is back in town just days after being relocated

Elephant seal is back

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has confirmed that Victoria’s favourite stair-climbing, beach-lounging elephant seal is back in town, less than a week after he was relocated.

The two-year-old juvenile seal known as Emerson was corralled into a van and taken to an undisclosed beach on west Vancouver Island on April 5.

It was the fifth time Emerson had been relocated by DFO since his first appearance at Whiffin Spit in May 2023.

But on Monday, DFO spokesperson Leri Davies confirmed Emerson was once again in Victoria-area waters.

“One amazing critter,” Davies said of Emerson, who is believed to have made the journey from the beach — believed to be located in the Barkley Sound area — in just six days.

On Saturday evening, Chris Ashurt took a photo of an elephant seal lazing around on Gonzales Beach.

“Everyone, they just all called it Emerson,” he said. “But that might just be the new collective term for elephant seals at this point.”

Ashurt, who was visiting from Haida Gwaii, had heard about Emerson but wasn’t certain if he had seen the seal in question.

Regardless of the seal’s identity, beachgoers gave it a wide berth. “Everyone was very respectful,” Ashurt said.

Ashurt, who posted about his encounter on social media, said some commentators saw Emerson swimming off the beach on Sunday morning.

Born in January 2022 in Bowman Bay in Puget Sound, Emerson gained a loyal following in Victoria when he spent about a month moulting at Oak Bay Marina Beach last year, and made his way onto the grassy boulevard next to Beach Drive.

Despite several efforts to relocate him, he continues to return to Victoria-area waters.

After he was spotted again this April in the Gorge Waterway in Saanich, then hanging out at Gorge and Admirals roads, he was relocated so he could complete the moulting process in peace, away from humans and off-leash dogs.

Elephant seals usually come ashore twice a year, with April and May being prime time for juvenile seals like Emerson to undergo the three-to-five week moulting process, during which they lose their hair and top layer of skin, then regrow their hair to stave off cold in the water.

Davies said that no DFO officers were available for an interview on Monday.

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