Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Big, Fat, Hairy Seal

Yes, as the Times-Colonist newspaper and John reported, there is an elephant seal on the beach at Gyro Park, Cadboro Bay. Yes, it is moulting and shedding its fur and outer skin.
There are a lot of people looking at it, and coming rather too near. If you do go see it, the seal is near the big concrete storm drain outfall. Don't get closer than a couple of yards, and tell anyone you see getting too close that they should NOT scare the elephant seal. And for pity's sake, keep your dog on a leash and away from the seal!!
The National Geographic website has some information on elephant seals at http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/elephant-seal.html
I'm sure glad that elephant seals seem to ignore kayaks most of the time when they're in the water near a kayak... and when they're on shore, they're pretty easy to see around here if they move. You'd be surprised how hard they can be to see, though. Check out John's photos here on Kayak Yak of harbour seals -- they can appear many different colours from white through russet to black when wet or dry. The sea lion he photographed near Albert Head was hard to tell from a beach log till it raised its head.
This fella yawned and showed a nice, wolf-like set of teeth. But it was just a yawn. Gotta say, nice to look at him. (The newspaper said it was a male, but if so he's pretty young, not a big 4-metre galoot like the one that washed up in Nanaimo Harbour recently.)
So the beach has a new sunbather lolling and dozing, a bit bigger than most sunbathers usually seen here, and WAY bigger than the harbour seals that cruise along the beach in the early morning. As my brother Karl said of another elephant seal that moulted at the Kinsmen Gorge beach a few years ago, it looks like it would really like to have its tummy scratched. But we're not supposed to touch it, and luckily the people watching it stayed at least a metre back.
I took several photos on my cell phone, but they don't seem any better than the one John found in the Times-Colonist.
I keep saying that Cadboro Bay is a terrific place to take a kayak, and see some wildlife. Sure enough, even elephant seals pop in to visit now and then.

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