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Young elephant seal rescued from storm drain in Washington

Elephant seals are rare in the Puget Sound area. The seal, later named Elwood, was believed to be treading water in the drain for several hours.
Credit: South Whidbey Fire/EMS
Elwood the elephant seal was rescued from a stormwater drainage vault on south Whidbey Island.

WHIDBEY ISLAND STATION, Wash. — A young elephant seal was rescued from a storm drain on Whidbey Island Tuesday by South Whidbey Fire. 

A report of a seal caught in a storm drain near Old Beach Road in the Mutiny Bay area came into South Whidbey Fire/EMS (SWF) around 7:30 Tuesday evening. South Whidbey Fire, the Langley Police Department and the Orca Network arrived to find a young elephant seal trapped in a vault of a stormwater drainage system in the lawn of a condominium complex, according to SWF. 

The vault is connected to Mutiny Bay on the south end of Whidbey Island by a large pipe, which rescuers suspect the seal traveled through to reach the vault. The seal, later named "Elwood" by the Orca Network, was exhausted from treading four feet of water for an unknown amount of time. Rescuers expect he was there for several hours. 

The grate was cut open and SWF lowered a cargo net into the vault, using ropes to maneuver it around the Elephant Seal. After two attempts crews were able to lift him to the top with the net, where the grate was resealed to prevent the Elwood from going back in. 

The seal was carried to the beach by rescuers, but it became clear the seal was too exhausted to be left on his own. A veterinarian from Bothell traveled out to Whidbey Island to evaluate him there. 

Elephant seals are uncommon in the Puget Sound area. However, Elwood's mother has been returning to Mutiny Bay for several years to give birth to her offspring. Elwood and his sister were both this spring, and are being watched over by the Orca Network.