Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre welcomed a new patient last Friday. Shadow, a presumed premature seal pup rescued off Haida Gwaii on June 1, 2012, is now being treated at the Rescue Centre, where his condition stabilized over the weekend.
Stranded at only a few days old, Shadow was first spotted by Ryan Ashton, dock manager at the Queen Charlotte Lodge. Shadow was seen crawling up the beach near the lodge in Haida Gwaii, and had tucked himself amongst the rocks near the helicopter landing pad. With the real-time assistance of the Rescue Centre staff, Ryan was able to create a special formula that was hand-fed to the stranded animal in very small amounts to help restore his energy levels. With the help of the RCMP and Pacific Coastal Airline, Shadow was brought to the Rescue Centre for treatment on Friday afternoon.
Despite his weak condition, Shadow was alert and vocal when he arrived at the Rescue Centre on Friday. He was very dehydrated and extremely malnourished. Staff immediately tube-fed him fluids containing electrolytes.
Upon arrival, Shadow only weighed 5.08 kg, which is about half of the normal birth weight for a seal pup. He still had his lanugo fur, a dense white fur that is typically lost prior to birth, on over 75 per cent of his body. The presence of lanugo fur in newborns is usually a sign of premature birth.
Duuring the first 24 hours of monitoring, Shadow had a guarded prognosis. He started to stabilize on Saturday and improved over the weekend. The Rescue Centre staff started to increase his formula intake via tube feeding to five times a day, with supplementary fluids to help with the dehydration. Today, he is alert, gaining weight, stabilizing well, and starting to lose his lanugo fur. He will be closely monitored over the next few weeks.
In 2011, Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre rescued over 150 stranded marine mammals. If you see a stranded animal, please call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.