The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre brought a very special patient back to its home in Haida Gwaii yesterday. After 13 weeks at the Rescue Centre, our first rescued harbour seal pup of the 2012 season, Shadow, was released back to his native waters.
According to Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Rescue Centre, “Shadow crashed through the waves and swam like a champ” when he was released.
Shadow was found this past spring by Ryan Ashton, dock manager at the Queen Charlotte Lodge. Ashton discovered the newborn seal pup lying on rocks. With the assistance of Rescue Centre staff via telephone, he was able to create a special formula, which he hand-fed to the stranded animal to help restore his energy levels before being flown to Vancouver for rehabilitation at the Rescue Centre.
When he arrived at the Rescue Centre, Shadow weighed only 5 kg, which is about half of the normal birth weight of a harbour seal. Staff at the Rescue Centre gave the dehydrated pup plenty of fluids and treated him for an infection with antibiotics. After 21 days of hand-feeding him a rich milk mixture, staff slowly introduced him to fish.
With the assistance of Rescue Centre staff and volunteers, Shadow’s health improved steadily, and on the day of his release, he weighed a whopping 30 kg! At his release, Shadow was accompanied by another rescued seal pup, Midnight Pearl.
The Vancouver Aquarium thanks Pacific Coastal Airlines for its generosity in flying Shadow, Midnight Pearl and two staff members to Haida Gwaii to return the seals to their natural home.
To date this year, Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has rescued over 130 stranded marine mammals with the assistance of 160 volunteers. If you see a stranded animal, please call the Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.