Vancouver Aquarium’s veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, and the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre’s staff were rushed to Vancouver Island to assist a California sea lion in distress yesterday, August 23. Rescued off the shore of Ucluelet, the young adult male was spotted by locals with a foot-long fishing flasher hanging from his left cheek. This sea lion is the first California sea lion to be rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
“When we arrived on site, we immediately knew he wasn’t in good shape. The fishing hook was embedded quite deep in the gastrointestinal tract and we noticed his poor condition; he was emaciated, dehydrated, very weak and suffering from a deep wound on his back. He was swimming with difficulty,” explains Dr. Haulena.
Thanks to the help of Fisheries and Ocean Canada, the 200-kilogram sea lion was brought to the shore and then transferred by ferry to the Rescue Centre late last night. He is currently being stabilized in a fresh water pool; which allows him to drink and re-hydrate naturally. Fluids and food will be offered today, and he has been started on a course of antibiotics by the Rescue Centre animal care team.
A series of diagnostic testing will be performed on Thursday, August 24: endoscopy, x-rays, ultra-sounds and blood work will confirm the location of the hook and how best to remove it. His survival chances are estimated at 50 per cent – and the next 72 hours will be critical.