Opportunity to Volunteer
By: Kris Holley
Our favorite party girl is now a momma! Elsie Mae, one of our few resident elephant seals gave birth on January 31 at Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park.
Elsie Mae is the second pup that was born in Island County to the original matriarch of our little colony, Ellie, which makes her now a grandmother. For those of you who know Elsie Mae, she has been quite a character since she was born in 2018. She has “crashed” at least two weddings we know of and has found quite an affinity for human interaction. Since there are risks to both humans and the seals when this happens, there is an effort to ensure Elsie Mae’s firstborn does not replicate these types of behaviors.
Despite the “inconvenience” that Elsie and her pup are causing, giving birth at Bowman Bay has been a great way to give the new mom and baby some extra space to just be elephant seals. Several dedicated “seal sitters” that are part of the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network (CPSMMSN) and with Deception Pass State Park sit at the set-up border, greeting and educating the public on these magnificent pinnipeds and ensuring they are given all the space they need to bond and for the baby to grow without the disruption of people and dogs.
There are so many tales about this amazing family and to watch it grow in front of our eyes is such a treat for those of us in and around Island County. I highly encourage you to visit CPSMMSN page on Orca Network’s website to learn more about each of our unique individuals.
The mom and baby will be on the beach for about 4 to 6 weeks where Elsie Mae will lose about a fourth of her body mass while the baby gains about ten pounds a day!
Important Reminder From Jill Hein
If you find a stranded marine mammal, alive or dead, in Island, Skagit or north Snohomish counties, please CALL the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network – 1-800-ORCANET – and follow the prompts to report the animal. Our Network will respond as appropriate, assess the situation, and pass/record the info to researchers and NOAA.
Thank you Marlene Bocast for the photos below. Since we must keep our distance, it’s great to see these closeup photos Marlene was able to take to share with the world.