(South Whidbey Fire/EMS)

Young seal rescued from stormwater vault on Whidbey Island

The six-week-old pup swam through a 50-foot pipe that led to a drainage system near Mutiny Bay.

An unusual kind of pup was rescued by first responders last Tuesday night.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS responded to a call at about 7:27 p.m. April 27 involving a young, trapped elephant seal near Old Beach Road.

Island County Sheriffs deputies, Langley police and a representative of the Orca Network also responded to the call.

The six-week-old seal, identified as “Elwood” by the Orca Network, managed to swim through a large pipe at least 50 feet in length that led to the vault for a stormwater drainage system of a nearby condominium complex in the Mutiny Bay area, according to South Whidbey Fire/EMS.

Young Elwood was not able to retreat and treaded water in the vault for an estimated six to eight hours. He was discovered by a resident of the condominiums who heard unusual splashing and noises of desperation and contacted first responders.

The fire department began the rescue by hoisting down a ladder for Elwood to rest against. Next, a cargo net was maneuvered around the seal. Using the net, he was carried back to the shore on a stretcher. He was unable to swim away because of exhaustion.

Firefighters used a net to hoist Elwood out of the stormwater vault. (South Whidbey Fire/EMS)

A veterinarian from the mainland arrived on scene to check on Elwood, who was bundled in towels and placed in the bed of a truck.

Garry Heinrich, the investigator and volunteer coordinator for the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network, said fluids were administered to the seal to stave off dehydration.

Heinrich, who is familiar with the young seal’s antics, said Elwood was found sitting on someone’s deck a few days ago. He has been “cruising” around Mutiny Bay, where he was born in mid-March to Ellie, the elephant seal matriarch who has given birth to a handful of pups over the years.

The last Heinrich heard, Elwood was resting on the beach after his latest adventure Tuesday night. He was tagged on his tail flipper so investigators can keep track of his movements.

“He seems fine, just tired,” Heinrich said.

Marine mammals, when found on the beach, should not be disturbed. Right now elephant seals are going through a molting period, but Heinrich said it is nothing to be concerned about.

Although he is still considered a pup, Elwood is 200 pounds and nearly four and a half feet long.

“He’s so darn cute,” Heinrich said.

Due to exhaustion, Elway was unable to swim right away. (South Whidbey Fire/EMS)

There are currently a few theories floating around out there about why Elwood decided to “cruise” into the pipe.

“He must have been meandering about and found a hole,” Heinrich said.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief of Operations and Safety Terry Ney said he had heard theories that there was an orca just off the beach that Elwood may have been escaping from.

Gaylon Whiteside, a resident of the condo who watched Elwood’s rescue, wondered aloud if maybe the seal saw a fish and decided to follow it into the pipe.

Whiteside said he was amazed by the first responders’ efforts to save Elwood from the water vault. He noted one of the firefighters was holding the seal “like he was holding a child.”

“I suspect some people might think this might be a waste of time, but we have to take care of nature because nature takes care of us,” Whiteside said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry route will only have one vessel until late June, Washington State Ferries announced after an engine fire on one vessel and ongoing crew shortages. (Emily Gilbert / Whidbey News-Times)
Coupeville ferry route down to one boat through June 27

Another delay in two-boat service means Coupeville ferry riders should expect long waits until June.

Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Arlington and local Cub Scouts planted trees at Stormwater Wetland Park on May 1. (City of Arlington)
Scouts, Rotarians collaborate to restore an Arlinton park

Rotary and Cub Scouts plant trees in Arlington Stormwater Wetland Park has… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1386 on Monday. Here, he talks in Tukwila before last week's signing of the new capital gains tax bill. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
Inslee signs bill extending tax break used by area cities

It’s helped Arlington and Marysville attract new businesses to Cascade Industrial Center.

Matt Reed (left) with his mother-in-law, Karen Alvin, remembers the day Meredith Reed died leaving behind baby Dylan, born two months premature. Meredith died of an embolism in her lungs just after Dylan was delivered by C-section April 15.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
A tragic loss, a fragile new life, a mother never forgotten

Meredith Reed died of a blood clot in her lung the day her son Dylan was born three months early.

From the third floor crow's nest of its new building in the port's South Marina, Everett Yacht Club Commodore John Seger points out what will be the club's dock on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Everett Yacht Club, at 114, gets a new home in South Marina

Once a fancy destination, the old building will be demolished — amid many changes to the city’s waterfront.

Pedestrian hit, killed by train in Marysville

Roads were closed as police investigated the scene on 88th Street NE and State Avenue.

Everett man sentenced for crashing into police car head-on

Thomas Susnios, 27, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. He was sentenced to 8½ years in prison.

Jeffrey Phebus is sentenced to over 31 years in prison for the murder of his wife Rebecca Phebus, on Monday, May 10, 2021, at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘No words’: Arlington man sentenced for killing wife at work

Jeffery Phebus, 61, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 31⅔ years in prison Monday.

Detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify a suspect in a bank robbery that occurred on Monday, April 26, at the Wells Fargo Bank located in the 1200 block of 13th Street in Snohomish. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Police: Snohomish bank robbery suspect rented getaway car

Police tracked down a Sultan man with the help of a rented car with Montana license plates.

Most Read