Becket VanderWal, 4, drops a piece of herring into Lucy’s mouth and grins from ear to ear.
Lucy is one of Fisherman’s Wharf’s most famous, and recognizable, residents. The one-eyed harbour seal frequents the waters in front of The Fish Store, where locals – like Becket – and tourists enjoy interacting with nature.
And the harbour seals don’t seem to mind mingling with the humans. Lucy, Slappy, Mad-Dog, Scott and Lulu seem to get a kick out of wrestling for a free herring meal tossed in the water.
“We all love coming down here. It’s entertaining,” said Dirk VanderWal, who accompanied wife, Alyssa, and kids, Becket and Macy, at Fisherman’s Wharf on a sunny afternoon. “We like to teach them a little bit about nature and the world around us and the city we live in. We need to respect it.”
The harbour seals aren’t just a Fisherman’s Wharf attraction. Oak Bay Marina has its own resident seals that enjoy eating fish doled out by visitors. Take a walk or kayak along Portage Inlet or the Gorge Waterway and you’ll find the region is teeming with these curious and agile mammals.
“I think most people who spend any time on the harbour, even walking along the Westsong Walkway or along the causeway, are fairly familiar with seeing harbour seals (basking on rocks),” says Jody Watson, the Capital Regional District’s harbours and watersheds co-ordinator.