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Relocated celebrity seal has possibly returned to the Gorge

An incredible feat if Emerson has returned so soon, officials says
A photo of a juvenile elephant seal, suspected to be Emerson, at Lime Bay Park on April 12, 2024. VIA STEPHANIE GURNEY, CHEK NEWS

Sightings of a seal on a Gorge area beach is causing speculation about whether celebrity elephant seal Emerson has returned to Victoria despite being relocated to a remote Vancouver Island beach last week.

Emerson, a two-year-old elephant seal predisposed to moulting in urban areas, was relocated from the Gorge Waterway by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to an undisclosed beach on Vancouver Island on April 5.

CHEK News reported that staff at the Victoria International Marina and the Gorge Waterway Action Society have sighted a juvenile elephant seal that has similar tags and markings to Emerson.

On Friday, a seal was sighted going into the water near the Songhees Walkway by a member of the Gorge Waterway Action Soceity.

Sitting on the beach where the seal had been photographed on Saturday, Shae Bolding said she’s only seen a sea otter in the Gorge so far.

“I’ll keep an eye out,” she said of Emerson.

DFO spokesperson Leri Davies was unable to confirm the identity of the animal on Saturday but said she might have more information on Sunday.

“It would be an incredible feat to get back in six days,” Davies said. “We put nothing past Emerson, but we can’t confirm [yet].”

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