The City of Victoria is asking people visiting Gonzales Beach to use caution as an elephant seal is moulting there.
People are asked to give the seal space and keep dogs away from the animal.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says seals may look sick, but moulting is a natural process that shouldn’t be interfered with.
Elephant seals are regular visitors to Vancouver Island’s western shores. All elephant seals spend one month a year on land to undergo a “catastrophic moult,” in which they shed all of their fur along with the underlying layer of skin, according to the oceans agency.
“For just over a month, the seal is confined to land and spends most of its time dozing and lazily flipping sand onto itself to stay cool,” DFO says.
The federal agency warns people should also keep a distance from moulting seals for their own safety. While they may look slow and harmless, the seals are capable of moving quickly and can be dangerous if they feel threatened.
If you see an animal being harassed or injured, call DFO’s observe, record and report hotline at 1-800-465-4336.
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