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Κυριακή, 26 Μαΐου, 2024

Elephant seal swims 200km to return to Canadian city after officials try to relocate him

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A 500lbs elephant seal, which was relocated to a remote beach in Canada for his own safety, swam about 200km to return to his urban home in Victoria where he climbed stairs, crossed roads and roamed about in the parks.

The seal named Emerson was taken in the back of a van from British Columbia’s capital city and left at a location “far from human habitation”.

On Monday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans verified that the two-year-old elephant seal swam approximately 34km per day, managing to return to the waters near Victoria just six days after being moved to an undisclosed beach on northern Vancouver Island on 5 April.

“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,’”’ Morgan Van Kirk of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who helped relocate Emerson, was quoted as saying by CBC.

“But yeah, this is his home and he’s letting us know that.”

The animal reportedly gained fame in Victoria for appearing in unexpected places such as flower beds, city parks, and busy roads.

Despite his popularity, his presence reportedly poses risks as people engage in risky behaviour around him, including attempts to pet him and take selfies.

Conservation officers are concerned about potential harm to both people and the seal. They say they may need to relocate him again to allow him to complete his moulting process undisturbed.

April and May mark the peak season for juvenile seals such as Emerson to undergo moulting, which typically lasts three to five weeks.

During this period, they shed their hair and top layer of skin, subsequently regrowing their hair to insulate against the cold in the water.

Emerson has reportedly been relocated four times for his own safety after he tried to cross roads, climb stairs, and even wander through garden beds on past visits to busy public spaces since last May.

“His celebrity is almost a detriment at this point,” Mr Van Kirk told Vancouver Sun. “A lot of people are getting too close trying to get selfies with him.”

He said there was one “extremely concerning” report involving a child being encouraged to touch Emerson’s nose to the seal.

“Not only is he larger than a black bear, he’s over 500 pounds and a wild animal,” he said.

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