Emerson mid-moult: Crowds more respectful as elephant seal continues crowd-pleasing antics

Emerson mid-moult: Crowds more respectful as elephant seal continues crowd-pleasing antics

At this point he’s basically local, but after a month there are still so many questions about Emerson the elephant seal.

“We know him really well,” says Paul Cottrell of DFO Marine Mammal Response.

But nobody can answer the question of why the seal crossed the road. “We still haven’t totally figured him out,” says Cottrell.

On Sunday, police blocked traffic along Beach Drive for three hours because Emerson had crossed the road from a spot near Oak Bay Marina to the front lawn of an apartment building.

It’s the latest in an almost month-long game of catch-me-if-you-can between Emerson and those trying to ensure his safety.

READ PREVIOUS: Emerson returns to the water, allowing Beach Drive to reopen

The two-year-old seal is experiencing a catastrophic moult, where the skin is shed, and while most seals choose to undergo this painful process in a secluded area, Emerson prefers areas populated with people.

Cottrell helped move him from the lawn back to the beach yesterday.

“I got a good look at his moult, and it’s progressing. His head is well into the moult and his hind flippers, so I’m estimating he’s halfway in.”

Despite reports earlier this month that people were getting too close to Emerson, interested onlookers are getting the message.

“People have been fantastic,” says Debbie Austen, volunteer coordinator with DFO. “I think we’re really just encouraging people, if need be, to keep voices as low as we can and just observe. It’s a wonderful teaching moment.”

Cottrell says Emerson’s antics yesterday were his last warning. “This is strike two,” he says.

A trailer is on standby to take Emerson away should he pull a re-appearing act in a populated place.

Cottrell estimates he’s got two to three weeks left before he takes off. If he makes an appearance again next year, he’ll be a different animal.

“Hopefully more interested in getting sexually mature and he’ll end up at Race Rocks with the other elephant seals.”


Jordan CunninghamJordan Cunningham

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