FOLLOWUP: What you might notice if you see the visiting elephant seal again

An update from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

Seal Sitters continues to monitor our visiting Northern Elephant Seal since he was first spotted in West Seattle waters on July 16. He had previously been sighted in the Des Moines/Redondo area in early June. The volunteers at SR3 (the newly opened Marine Mammal Hospital in Des Moines) named him “Ruckus” considering all the attention and excitement he was creating. To our knowledge, he has not hauled out on any public beach in West Seattle, but with the cooperation of property owners along the Sound, Seal Sitters’ first responders have been able to check on his location and condition.

While elephant seals vary somewhat in color through shades of brown and gray, they all go through an annual “catastrophic molt.” During this process they shed their top layer of skin and fur in chunks which results in a dramatic change in appearance and they remain on the beach for an extended period of time. This is normal, but can give the impression that the animal is sick or dying.

If Ruckus is still in our area when he molts, we hope he can find a quiet safe beach. If you should come across him while out walking our beaches, please keep a respectful distance and report his location to the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.

The top photo is of Ruckus on a private West Seattle beach on 7/18, while the bottom photo is of a molting female Northern Elephant Seal on a downtown Seattle beach back in April of this year. Female elephant seals molt in the spring while males molt later in the summer.

8 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: What you might notice if you see the visiting elephant seal again"

  • Dlj203 July 25, 2021 (2:06 pm)

    Ruckus has now stormed the beaches off Emma Schmitz memorial overlook.  Well just to the south.   Okay maybe “stormed” isn’t quite accurate.  It’s more like floppy flopped their way there  lol  Such a beautiful animal  

    • WSB July 25, 2021 (3:44 pm)

      Thanks for the update! Remember, everybody keep their distance, for Ruckus’s sake and yours….

      • Gordon July 25, 2021 (4:58 pm)

        We saw him there slowly flopping his way to the water. That low low tide might’ve caught him napping. 

  • Gina July 25, 2021 (6:13 pm)

    Just wanted to say I’m enjoying this coverage. Hope to catch a sight of Ruckus before he moves on! 

  • Kim July 25, 2021 (8:10 pm)

    Just a reminder to keep your dogs off the beach.  Every day I’m seeing our neighbors who let their dogs roam freely. Pretty disgusting.

  • Jason July 26, 2021 (10:40 am)

    Spotted Ruckus at Seahurst Park this morning.   We were walking on the beach when he suddenly popped his head and tail out of the water right in front of us, about 20 ft off shore.  Camera phone and tough lighting doesn’t do justice how beautiful and how big he is.  It was an awesome sight.

  • Allie July 26, 2021 (11:38 am)

    I was sitting on my seawall on Saturday evening when all of the sudden he popped up and starting swimming directly towards me. I had no idea what animal he was but he was the biggest thing I’ve seen without binoculars in the area. He came right up to the seawall. I’ve never seen any animal get so close to it before. I almost fell in the water because I was trying to back away so quickly. He ended up getting a large fish which is why I think he was right there. His size is unmatched in person. These photos don’t quite do it justice.  

    • Allie July 26, 2021 (12:21 pm)

      Not quite sure why Jason’s photo ended up in my comment. Sorry Jason. Lol. But here is one last photo I took. 

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