At 7:27 PM on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, South Whidbey Fire/EMS was called for a seal caught in a storm drain near Old Beach Road in the Mutiny Bay area. Responders from South Whidbey Fire/EMS, Island County Sheriff’s Office, Langley Police Department, and the Orca Network arrived to find a young Elephant Seal trapped in a vault of a storm water drainage system in the lawn of a condominium complex.
The vault is connected to Mutiny Bay by a large pipe, and he must have come thru that pipe to get into the vault, but was unable to get back to the bay that way. The seal, known as “Elwood” according to the Orca Network representative, was clearly exhausted from an unknown amount of time (presumably hours) of treading water, which was about 8 feet below the ground level, and 4 feet deep.
The lock was cut and the grates opened, and a ladder lowered in, in hopes that he could rest against that while it was determined how best to get him out. South Whidbey Fire was able to bring a cargo net to the scene, which was lowered with ropes and maneuvered underneath Elwood. It took two attempts, but crews were able to lift him with the net to the top, and the grating was immediately closed to keep him from going back in! He was rolled into a Stokes litter and carried to the beach, but when we released him it became clear that he was too exhausted to be left there.
The Orca Network was in communication with a veterinarian who was en route from Bothell, and it was decided to carry him to a pickup belonging to the Orca Network representative, where he could wait for the arrival of the vet. Apparently Elephant Seals are not common here in Puget Sound, but Elwood’s mother has been returning to Mutiny Bay for some years to give birth to her offspring, and Elwood and his sister were born here this spring, and are being watched by the Orca Network.