WILDLIFE: Elephant seal off West Seattle

4:25 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul and Eric Shalit for the tips – another elephant seal is in view off West Seattle. Eric saw it off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4500 block Beach Drive) around 1 pm; Kersti just texted that it’s headed slowly southbound, still in that area. It’s an adult male Northern Elephant Seal – the Seal Sitters update we published recently talks about their appearance in local waters.

ADDED 7:41 PM: The photo and update are from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

Seal Sitters was contacted about this animal just before noon today. Volunteers were at Emma Schmitz Overlook for a period of time, early this afternoon, monitoring this seal just in case it came ashore. We believe this is probably the same animal that was hanging out in Puget Sound further to the south earlier in June. If you spot it in our area, please call the Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325.

10 Replies to "WILDLIFE: Elephant seal off West Seattle"

  • Chris Stripinis July 16, 2021 (7:29 pm)

    That is so cool!  I read that, say, humpback whales used to be relatively rare in Puget Sound but have become more common in recent years.  Might elephant seals become another new resident of local waters?

    • Patrick H. July 17, 2021 (7:02 am)

      Maybe! Elephant Seals have been showning up more frequently and in greater numbers in the last couple years: males, females, and pups. We don’t really know what’s changed. It could be that oceangraphic conditions have shifted and the Salish Sea is more comfortable for them now. It could also be that the population in the Eastern Pacific has recovered enough that they are starting to spill out into new territory. Likely it’s a combination of many factors.If they haul out on the beaches make sure to watch from a distance and if you have concerns call one of the marine mammal stranding network partners. Seal Sitters (206)905-7325 if the animal is north of the Fauntleroy Ferry. MaST Center Stranding Team (206)724-2687 if the animal is south of Fauntleroy.

      • Patrick H. July 19, 2021 (9:48 am)

        Just a brief correction: The boundary between Seal Sitters and MaST center is further south at Brace Point. Approximately in line with Roxbury Street.

  • Seal Sighting July 16, 2021 (10:44 pm)

    I saw an (or the same) elephant seal yesterday, 7/15, same location.

  • AR July 17, 2021 (1:30 pm)

    It appears as though the elephant seal has passed away.

    • WSB July 17, 2021 (1:59 pm)

      Someone has been sending us video in which it looks quite alive. Is Seal Sitters aware of what you’re describing?

  • AR July 17, 2021 (1:41 pm)

    I made a mistake.  It is still alive and very quite.

    • WSB July 17, 2021 (2:20 pm)

      Whew, glad to hear that.

  • The Reeses July 17, 2021 (10:20 pm)

    We saw him bottling off constellation park around 8pm.  We also noticed the interpretive sign doesn’t even list elephant seals as “rarely seen” in the area!

  • The Ongstad’s July 18, 2021 (7:50 am)

    The elephant seal was laying  in shallow tide in front of our home just south of Lowman Beach Park this morning.  We notified Seal Sitters, but shortly later it gently swam north.  Thankful it was only resting.  So unusual to see here.The Ongstad’s

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