Elsie Mae of Anacortes, an elephant seal in Anacortes, Washington, took a dip in the water yesterday. She was napping when I arrived, but I knew something was going to happen. Every time I showed up, she had done something amazing.

On this day, Elsie Mae decided to go to the beach and cool off with a very short dip. The move to the water was very slow and looked to be a draining process. She would move a short distance and rest before moving forward again. You could see the weariness in her eyes as she moved toward the water.

I could also see that her old coat was peeling back, and a beautiful new coat was appearing. She would pop up and get a burst of energy to continue her journey, then lay back down for a short rest before starting to move again. Going from her resting place to the water was a short but challenging process for Elsie Mae.

After moving for 45 minutes, she made it to the edge of the cooling waters. The waves would gently splash her and deposit seaweed on her face. I am sure she was feeling some comfort from the warm sun. She moved into the water for a few minutes, then turned around and came back to shore.

You could still see in her eyes that she was fatigued. I am sure she was not looking forward to the trip back up to the beach.

She closed her eyes and enjoyed the cold water before the return trip began.

She then popped up and gave out a call, letting the volunteers know she was on the way back. There looked to be some excitement in her face.

With all her might, she dug her flippers and started the journey back. You could see the determination on her face. She was going to get back to her resting place. Returning was much quicker than when she headed down to the water. She was able to make it back up in 10 minutes.

There were many stops to rest, but they were very brief. She seemed to be very happy returning to her favorite place to rest.

The calls kept coming as she moved up to the beach. She would look to see if the volunteers would respond. They did and would let her know that all was clear. This would make her very happy, and her pace would speed up.

She would take one more rest with her eyes on the finish. She made it to her favorite place to rest and began covering herself with sand. With a single swoop, the sand would fly in a fantastic arc.

Then, she would scratch an itch here and an itch there.

At last, it was time to rest quietly once again, knowing she was in good hands.

Elsie Mae is a reminder of the wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She is also a symbol of the recovery of the northern elephant seal population. I am grateful to have captured her journey to the water.


Pacific Northwest Pictorial ™
© Copyright 2020-22 ~ All Rights Reserved

Pacific Northwest Pictures