The Vancouver Aquarium recently added a new member to its family: Jack the harbour porpoise. Jack, who was stranded at approximately five weeks old, was rescued last September by the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre team.
Following six months of intensive rehabilitation at the Aquarium’s Rescue Centre, Jack was deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He was rescued at a neonatal age and has not developed the necessary skills that would enable him to survive in the wild. So Jack’s been provided a new home at the Vancouver Aquarium where he can continue to receive the care he needs.
The harbour porpoise was discovered stranded on the beach in Horseshoe Bay on September 16, 2011 by members of the public who alerted the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. When the rescue team arrived to Horseshoe Bay, the 12-kilogram stranded male harbour porpoise was having difficulty breathing and could no longer swim. His muscles and skin were severely damaged due to the pressure of being stranded.
The harbour porpoise, later named Jack, was weak, malnourished, and dehydrated when found. Once the animal was admitted to the Aquarium’s hospital, the team provided emergency treatment and immediately placed him under 24-hour care and monitoring.
Jack’s lengthy rehabilitation necessitated more than two months of around-the-clock care provided by the Rescue Centre, and was supported by more than 60 devoted volunteers. The group of volunteers, along with staff, spent numerous nights with Jack, and provided more than 2,000 volunteer hours.
To ensure he received the necessary nutrients to heal and gain weight, Jack was fed a unique fish-based formula every two hours for the first eight consecutive weeks. At the beginning of his rehabilitation, Jack needed the support of a flotation device, as he was too weak to swim on his own. After a few weeks, he was encouraged to exercise freely in order to heal damaged muscles. The Rescue Centre team created a unique physiotherapy plan to help him regain motion and strength.
Thanks to the tremendous effort by staff and volunteers, Jack was able to regain strength and is now healthy and thriving. We are happy to provide him a home at the Vancouver Aquarium and also a new companion, Daisy. Daisy was rescued by the Aquarium’s Rescue Centre in 2008 and has been living at the Aquarium since 2009. Jack and Daisy were introduced last month and are both doing extremely well, interacting and playing with each other.
After being deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Jack and Daisy are the only harbour porpoises living in an aquarium in North America. They now share a home in the harbour porpoise habitat at the Aquarium where staff and volunteers continue to provide the care and support they need.
If you see a stranded animal, please call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance. And please, come and visit Jack and Daisy at the Vancouver Aquarium!