Archive for February, 2014

Baby is growing up fast.

February 28, 2014

Hello, my name is Anne Stewart and I am filling in for Laura Verhegge, the usual author of this blog, while she is away on maternity leave. I have been really enjoying Pearson College and want to keep the blog active while Laura is busy with her new little boy Finn ( a happy, calm and easy baby). Mother and child are doing well.

Spring is coming, so the Marine Science theme for the blog will  be babies, for now. I hope you enjoy this  “before and after” Northern elephant Seal story (before & after nursing) and the “before” photos taken by Year 40 Marine Science Jessica Collins, from the United Kingdom.

P1020327Mother & newborn pup.

One class of Marine Science students had the chance to visit a newborn Northern Elephant Seal pup when it was just a few days old, during our first week back in class, in January. The pup was born in the Ecological Reserve at Race Rocks and the Eco-Guradian, Alex Fletcher kindly guided our visit to minimize any impact while providing a fantastic learning experience for the Pearson College students. The pup still had its umbilical cord and seemed much too small for its over-sized, really wrinkly skin. We watched the pup nursing and snoozing and heard its’ funny little vocalizations. They were quite a pair, mother and pup

The mother stayed right by the pup’s side and was very attentive during our class visit. We kept a respectful distance to not disturb the mother/pup pair and to stay clear of the big male Elephant Seal that was “hanging around” waiting for Mom’s attention.

P1020324The big male waits.


Pearson College Marine Science students, field notebooks in hand on the steps of the Race Rocks Lighthouse.

We went back out for another visit February 27 and were again hosted by Eco-Guardian Alex and his lovely partner Virginie who kindly fed everyone delicious cranberry cake.  The students had a chance to meet Garry Fletcher, Warden of the Eco-Reserve and his friend Barry, photographer and listen to some great stories told by Paul Cottrel.


Hooray, another field trip. Lets go.

P1020353Pup after weaning.

The Elephant Seal mother had been gone for at least ten days when we got there, having done her duty of completely filling up the pup with super rich, fatty milk. It was estimated that the pup  was well over 100 kilos. It is no exaggeration to call this pup “inflato-seal”.

P1020367“Inflato-seal” pup.

Female Northern Elephant Seals fast during the 28 days of lactation and while their weight plummets, the pup’s weight quadruples in the same four weeks.  When we were there the male was gone too and the pup was just sleeping and probably getting ready in whatever way Northern Elephant Seals do get ready,  to head out to sea on its own, for the very first time. Little did it know, that it was about to be tagged.

Assisted by the eco-guardians and guests, a Fisheries and Oceans crew, led by Marine Mammal Coordinator, Paul Cotrell , including Fisheries Officer Mya and Pinniped Biologist Sheana, tagged the Elephant Seal pup with a blue flipper tag. The tagging was uneventful (thanks to Paul’s skill and experience) and not as dangerous to the crew as it might have been had the pups’ teeth already erupted.

This pup is the first Elephant Seal to be tagged in Canada, making February 27, 2014, an historic day.

P1020376Good-bye little weaner.

P1020371Good field trips are when deep experiential learning happens, that build memories for a lifetime.