Humpback whales, wildebeest and Arctic birds come to mind as some of the world’s most impressive animal travellers – but what about harbour seals?

The map above (marked with times and dates) shows just how much movement was made by a harbour seal in a single month. This harbour seal – known as “Fresh Air” – was released after a stay this past summer at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

After its release on the Sunshine Coast, it travelled along Texada Island before crossing the Strait of Georgia and heading up to North Vancouver Island. From there, this latest image shows that it ventured out into the open waters of the Pacific.

The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre rescued 148 harbour seal pups this year.

Fresh Air is just one of five rescued and rehabilitated seal pups whose movements are being tracked by satellite-linked transmitters – a first-time endeavor for the Aquarium. This will help researchers better understand where they go and what they do. Follow the journeys of the five harbour seals here.

This is not a forever-type opportunity though. The satellite tags, which were provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, will stay attached to the seals’ fur for another five to eight months until the harbour seals moult. Moulting essentially means they will shed their fur, so when the fur comes off, it will also be “bye-bye satellite tracker.”

In the meantime, Vancouver Aquarium staff see this as a great chance to monitor what happens to the harbour seals after they’ve been released from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. This latest image shows us that Fresh Air is headed toward the shore.

For close to 50 years, The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of marine animals. Harbour seals have been their most common patient, though the centre has also treated harbour porpoises, sea turtles and a killer whale. This past summer, 148 seal pups just like Fresh Air were rescued.

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