Emerson’s back: Rascally elephant seal reemerges in Saanich, is taken away by DFO

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

A local celebrity returned to Saanich on Friday, only to quickly be whisked away by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Emerson the elephant seal appeared in Saanich from the waters of the Gorge Waterway on Monday to partake in his yearly moult, when he sheds and cracks old skin.

It’s a painful process that leaves elephant seals ornery and beached for weeks, and it drew the attention of local community members.

After he tried to waddle onto a roadway on Wednesday, however, local police helped usher him back into the Gorge.

WATCH: Video shows celebrity seal Emerson returning to the waters of Saanich

However, on Friday Emerson re-emerged in the area, so this time DFO staff members corralled him into a Fisheries vehicle to move him to a less populated area.

A DFO officer at the scene told CHEK News they are driving the elephant seal to Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

In a statement late Friday afternoon, DFO said they were taking Emerson “far from human habitation, to ensure that he can complete the moulting process in peace without endangering his health and will not pose a health and safety risk to humans and off-leash dogs.”

“Unfortunately, Emmerson has a tendency to put himself into high traffic areas with lots of people about,” the statement adds. “We have relocated him several times in the past.”

Emerson first gained the attention of Islanders in 2023, when he beached himself in Oak Bay to moult.

He’s roughly two years old and a whopping 350 pounds. He was born in Deception Pass Park in the U.S., just east of Victoria, and while he was young one of his flippers was tagged for identification.

Moulting is a long and painful process that can take four to five weeks to complete. If you see an animal moulting, or any marine mammal in distress, you’re asked to keep your distance and make sure pets are kept on leash and away from the animal.

With files from CHEK’s Ethan Morneau

Adam Chan

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