Beachgoers in Metchosin are being warned they might stumble upon a young elephant seal while enjoying the warm weather, and they should keep their distance.
The seal was first seen at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park Thursday (May 18), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada was quick to put up signs and caution tape in the area. The signs warn visitors not to approach or disturb the seal and to keep all dogs leashed and under control as the seal may bite if it feels threatened.
According to that agency’s website, elephant seals are common along the B.C. coast, and those seen on our shores are typically adult males or juveniles while the females typically stay further off shore.
Moulting is a natural process for the seals, and they can spend around a month on land or close to land each year during this process, which sees them shed their fur and the underlying layer of skin.
This can make the seals seem sickly to observers and the seals can even lose up to 25 per cent of their body weight as they do not eat while moulting. They do spend their time lazily flipping sand onto themselves to stay cool while on land.
Anyone who sees an injured or sick animal, one being harassed or one exhibiting unusual behaviour is asked to contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s 24-hour reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.