Back again? Emerson the elephant seal may have returned to Victoria

Stephanie Gurney
A seal that’s believed to be Emerson is pictured in Lime Bay Park on April 12.

An adorable local celebrity may have made his way back to the shores of Greater Victoria once again.

Pictures and video show a seal that appears to be Emerson the juvenile elephant seal coming ashore in the Gorge area.

Staff at the Victoria International Marina say they saw the seal this week, and Stephanie Gurney with the Gorge Waterway Action Society snapped pictures of the seal at Lime Bay Park on Friday.

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(Stephanie Gurney)

Residents believe the seal is Emerson because it has two tags on its flippers, and has similar markings on its back to Emerson.

Last week, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) re-located Emerson to Barkley Sound, south of Ucluelet, after he began wandering towards a road in Saanich.

The plan was to have the elephant seal complete its yearly moult in a safer, more remote area.

DFO says it’s possible the seal spotted in Victoria this week is Emerson, but the trip would have been difficult to complete in just a handful of days. Fisheries officers are still working to confirm if the seal is Emerson or not.

Repeat visitor

Emerson made headlines at the beginning of April after he lumbered out of the Gorge Waterway in Saanich on April 1.

He came on to land to complete his yearly moult, a roughly four-week-long process where he sheds and cracks his old skin.

He drew a crowd of onlookers but was left alone, until a few days later when he began wandering onto a roadway.

Local police ushered him back into the water on April 3 after he became a traffic hazard, but he returned to land just days later, at which point Fisheries and Oceans Canada corralled him into a truck and dropped him off in the Barkley Sound area, near Ucluelet.

“Unfortunately, Emerson has a tendency to put himself into high traffic areas with lots of people about,” said DFO in a statement on April 5. “We have relocated him several times in the past.”

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Emerson the elephant seal is pictured on April 5, getting corralled into a DFO vehicle. (CHEK News)

Emerson, born in Washington in early 2022, made his first appearance on local beaches last year.

In May 2023, he wandered into Oak Bay for his yearly moult. Then, in September, he showed up on the Songhees Walkway, only to be relocated by DFO crews to the Island’s northwest coast.

With files from CHEK’s Ethan Morneau

Adam Chan

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