Beachgoers are being warned to keep their distance from an elephant seal moulting near the Oak Bay Marina.
Early Wednesday morning, a seal climbed onto the seawall along Beach Drive by Queens Park and plopped itself along the boulevard.
“I know seals can climb up on rocks and things, so for the stairs, it might be uncomfortable … He doesn’t know about traffic, so thankfully, he had support getting back down,” says Adam, who lives nearby.
Oak Bay Police and Fisheries Oceans Canada attended the scene and, with enough helping hands, safely guided the seal back onto the beach.
The juvenile male is believed to be from Puget Sound and is supposedly very familiar with the Oak Bay area.
“Yeah, we feel this one we’ve seen, several times actually, it’s moved around a little bit,” says Mya Cormie, a field supervisor with the DFO.
Oak Bay residents are welcoming their newest neighbour with open arms, and some tell CHEK News it goes by the name Emerson.
“It’s a miracle to watch and to see Emerson right there and apparently doing very well,” says Oak Bay resident Dianne.
“It seems quite content to be here.”
Elephant seals moult once a year, and it can take about a month for them to shed all of their fur along with the underlying layer of skin.
“It’s quite a hard process,” says Cormie.
“They don’t eat during that entire month, they’re up on the shore, they might look sick or almost dead, they might be lying on their backs or just not looking very happy, they could be covered in wounds. All of that is normal for the moulting process.”
The DFO is asking the public to give the seal its space, as it is a wild animal and could bite.
“Let it just be, keep a distance from it, don’t disturb it, it is a long process, and we don’t want it to be chased into the water,” adds Cormie.
Anyone who sees what looks like a moulting elephant seal is asked to report it to DFO’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-465-4336.