Canada Relocates Elephant Seal, but He's Not Having It

Emerson journeys almost 100 miles to return to his home in Victoria, BC
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 12:33 PM CDT
Canada Relocates Elephant Seal, but He's Not Having It
Elephant seals and their pups in this 2019 file photo.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Emerson, the pseudo-celebrity resident elephant seal of British Columbia's capital city, Victoria, really likes his chosen hometown. Really likes it. Last week, conservation officers decided Emerson's penchant for hanging out in the city's flower beds, parks, and roads wasn't the best suited to his longevity and gave him a ride to a remote beach almost 95 miles away. Five days later, the determined 500-pound animal was back in city limits, reports the Guardian, meaning he clocked about 19 miles a day to get back.

"I was pretty floored. I got the email on the weekend and said to myself, 'There's absolutely no way it could be him already,''' fishery officer Morgan Van Kirk of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who helped relocate Emerson, tells the CBC. "But yeah, this is his home and he's letting us know that."

Emerson's vibrant social life is complicated by the fact that he's currently molting—or shedding tissues like skin and whiskers—which saps a lot of the 2-year-old's energy. "Since he's just done this big journey, we don't want to put too much extra pressure on him in case he does want to come back," says Van Kirk. Officials are also dealing with an adoring public that's pushing the limits with a very large wild animal by approaching him with their own animals, trying to pet him, and once even trying to get a kid to touch his nose.

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"That usually never ends well for either people or animals and it can lead to injuries or worse for people or the animal involved," says Van Kirk. But for now, marine scientist Anna Hall says Emerson is home. "Obviously [this beach] has everything he needs and wants right now. He's picked a great spot and he's sticking with it." (More elephant seals stories.)

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