Last evening, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre assisted with the rescue of a young, adult male harbour porpoise that was found stranded on the rocks in Saanich Inlet on Tuesday afternoon. The porpoise is currently in the care of Rescue Centre staff.

The stranding was called in by a Vancouver Island resident who spotted the porpoise near her home. The Rescue Centre team travelled to Vancouver Island, and with the help of Cetus Research and Conservation Society and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, transferred the porpoise to the Rescue Centre where he has been receiving around-the-clock care.

Although the porpoise has a healthy body weight, he is unable to swim on his own. He is currently being supported by a specially-designed sling that helps him stay afloat. The porpoise will continue to receive critical care, with the goal to stabilize the porpoise with fluids, antibiotics, and nutrition while the team plans further diagnostic procedures.

Unfortunately, once stranded, porpoises have historically had a very poor chance of recovery and this is especially true for adult animals that may have serious underlying
health issues. However, the Vancouver Aquarium has been very successful with
porpoise calves in the last few years and is providing the best care possible
for the new porpoise.

Health issues associated with the stranding of adult porpoises in British Columbia have included, among other causes, injuries from other animals and human-related activities, severe fungal infections, heavy parasite burdens, and bacterial infections. Harbour porpoises are increasingly being recognized as a sentinel species in the Salish Sea, and investigating the causes of health problems in porpoises can potentially provide valuable insight into the health of our local ecosystem.

If the porpoise does recover, and demonstrates that he can adequately forage for food, avoid predators, and pose no threat to other marine life, the goal is to eventually release him back into the wild.

As a self-supporting, non-profit organization, the Vancouver Aquarium does not receive ongoing funds to operate its Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. To help us care for this porpoise, as well as the hundreds of other marine mammals we rescue and rehabilitate each year, please donate today.

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