First Elephant Seal born at Race Rocks: January, 2009

First baby Elephant seal

First baby Elephant seal born on Race Rocks


jan30mombabe Ninene nursing on mother elephant seal Bertha.


Misery, probably not the father, Bertha and Ninene in the first days

Ryan has observed a lot of aggression on the part of the young male which had previously been named Misery by Mike Slater.


Initially a healthy female baby and mother.

The baby was born beside the helicopter pad, and has spent the first day there, trying to nurse. The interference by the aggressive male has made this difficult.

January 30, 2009: This is what we believe is the first elephant seal pup to be born at Race Rocks. It arrived last night or early this morning. See the daily log also for updates. Ryan and Adam have dubbed the pup NINENE, after the WSANEC (Saanich people) moon that it was born under, meaning, child or offspring


Adam Harding took this video at close range from the top of the helipad.The second one was taken on the morning of February 1 from inside of the Marine Centre on Great Race Rocks

In the weeks that followed, Nine went through a  In the month following the birth, the pup Ninene, which Ryan observed was a female , went through an incredible amount of trauma while being attacked viciously by the young male Misery. Here we document the process. It is not a pleasant site and at the time of writing, it is still not certain whether this pup will survive. After 4 weeks, weaning took place and the mother left permanently. On the California pupping beaches, the pups normally stay on the pupping grounds often guarded by a male for 5 to 8 weeks longer, without feeding. Then they get hungry and go to the water to feed on their own in shallow protected water . If Ninene makes it that far it will be quite exceptional. Caution: may not be suitable for children.

bruisepup bite
Bruises showing on the pup. Male grasping the pup

Elephant Seal Male Aggression Videos

The trauma of her first four weeks when she was nursing were minor compared to what happened when her mother left and she was weaned. The young male we have called “Misery” turned on Ninene and beat up on her severely, so much that we considered she was very close to death. Ultimately she was saved by Slash, our old elephant seal, possibly her father, who took on the young male. The following images are not the worst of what we had to watch while this drama unfolded.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal Ninene recovering Ninene recovering
This photo was taken on March 3, a few days later the mother had left the island leaving Ninene alone to be weaned. Ninene had moved to the other side
of the engine room.
She was looking fairly good, with evident weight gain from 4 weeks of nursing.
(photos by Garry Fletcher)

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

Misery on the lawn photo by Raisa

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

After the female left, Misery was relentless in his attacks on Ninene. His throat red with Ninene’s blood the next morning.

elephant seal injured

Ninene the next day in critical condition.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

After the second night after the female left, Misery returned to the island with three large sets of puncture wounds.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

He laid low for a few days on the lawn below the flagpole. Presumably the wounds were from the only other male around–Slash.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

Presumably the wounds were from the only other male around, Slash. When he returned to the island Misery soon left for good.

elephant seal injured

Ninene retreats to the rocks on the south west corner of the island.

Ninene injured

March — shortly after the beating, Ninene was coated in dried blood

Ninene recovering

Recuperation took place out on the south west shore, well away from the centre of the island.

Ninene recovering

March 5. Ninene is spending her time with her serious injuries out on the South west corner

Ninene recovering

March 5, 2009. Its hard to imagine how she can recover from these injuries.

Ninene recovering

By the tidepools on the south west corner

Ninene recovering

March 9, Her condition is improving.

Ninene tail wound

Injuries near the base of Nine’s tail from Misery’s rough treatment.

Slash on lawn

March 5 2009, Slash has driven off Misery and is now lounging on the lawn .

Slash on lawn

March 5, Slash has taken over the place on the lawn where Misery was located .

Slash on lawn

Battle scars on Slash. While on the island with Ninene, he never paid any attention to her.

ottom of Misery

The bottom of Slash! We have a feeling that Slash was the father of Ninene, as he is the only one we have seen breeding there over the past few years.

Ninene, elephant seal pup

The large white cluster behind her deep neck wound was a large boil, possibly from infection or a parasite, that burst after a few days

Ninene, elephant seal pup

In the last week of March, she made her first trip down to the docks and then went back across the island to stay a few days near the tower.

Ninene, elephant seal pup

March 25, 2009 the scar on her back is gradually returning to normal.

Ninene, elephant seal pup

March 9th, Ninene down on the boat ramp. She is spending more time in the water now as she tests out the environemtn, having to learn everything on her own.


On April 2, 2009, Ryan sent the following e-mail: “I haven’t seen the elephant seal pup for a couple of days, and I suspect she got into the water on the east side of the island the night of March 30. If she’s seen again I’m sure her neck scar will be a good identifier.


A total of 8 weeks had passed since her birth, and 4 weeks since weening. She had a rough start but hopefully will now be able to survive in her own.”

in the USA

Ninene in the USA

On April 7 we were forwarded an e-mail from Dyanna Lambourn, a Marine Mammal Research Biologist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Lakewood, WA with this picture by Duane Benedict of the Port Angeles Police Department of a Northern Elephant Seal pup that showed up in Port Angeles on April 2nd. She indicates “I suspect it is probably the pup from Race Rocks… I went to the Race Rocks website and it appears that “NINENE” left around that same time. The pup is hauled out in downtown Port Angeles and the plan is to relocate her to the tip of Edis Hook on US Coast Guard Property today. Hopefully the pup will also be tagged.”

Link:Ninene turns up in down-town Port Angeles in the next few weeks.

Ninene turns up in down-town Port Angeles in the next few weeks.



The article “Beached elephant seal moved to Ediz Hookalso appeared today in the Penninsula Daily News





Link:She is tagged with red tags and then released back at the waterfront

She is tagged with red tags and then released back at the waterfront


 Seal pup likely “Canadian born” now she’s missing in the Penninsula Daily News, Port Angeles.





Link: The last we see of Ninene with the red tags is on Taylor Beach. Scars healing on her neck. And then on April 15, 2009, she returns to our shores. The last we see of Ninene with the red tags is on Taylor Beach.