Video shows celebrity seal Emerson returning to the waters of Saanich

Video credit: Bonnie Burton

It was bon voyage for a local celebrity who went safely back to the waters of Saanich on Wednesday.

Video, which can be viewed above, shows the elephant seal’s dramatic journey from grass, to pavement, to water on Wednesday afternoon.

Emerson the locally-famous elephant seal, who’s made a name for himself in both Canada and the U.S., crawled onto land near the Gorge Water sometime Monday morning for his annual moult.

“We thought he might show up for his moult, and that’s what it appears,” said Paul Cottrell, marine mammal rescue coordinator with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, on Monday. “He looks like he’s starting his moult.”

READ MORE: ‘Quite a celebrity’: Elephant seal ‘Emerson’ moulting in Saanich

A moult is a weeks-long process where seals shed and crack their skin. Cottrell says it’s often painful and arduous, and can involve pus.

Emerson is known to hobble through local parking lots and campsites, appearing in Oak Bay last year, and was even observed and tagged in Deception Pass Park in the U.S.

“So he’s got a unique number and white tag. We know him very well over the past year and a bit,” said Cottrell.

On Wednesday, concerns for his safety were raised after he started making his way onto a roadway.

Fortunately, police were able to help guide Emerson back into the Gorge, and the video shows the triumphant moment when the 350-pound animal slips beneath the waves.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimates Emerson is around two years old and looks very healthy.

If you spot an elephant seal moulting, or any marine mammal that it’s in distress, you’re asked to keep your distance and make sure that pets are kept on leash and away from the animals.

With files from CHEK’s Ethan Morneau and Adam Chan


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