We here at the Vancouver Aquarium are very happy to announce that Walter, the sea otter blinded by a shotgun blast near Tofino and deemed non-releasable due to his extensive injuries, is adjusting well to his new home at the Vancouver Aquarium.
After 11 weeks of life-saving treatment and rehabilitation at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, Walter was moved to the Aquarium where he joins Katmai, Tanu and Elfin – three other rescued sea otters receiving ongoing care at the facility. Due to his blindness and injuries, Walter cannot forage or avoid predators, so he requires ongoing human care.
Walter was rescued on October 18, 2013, after members of the public reported seeing a lethargic and uncharacteristically approachable sea otter on the shoreline of Tofino, British Columbia.
After being examined at the Rescue Centre, Dr. Martin Haulena, Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian, determined that the ailing sea otter had been shot. Riddled with pellets, Walter was blind and had fractures in one of his flippers, making it difficult for him to forage and groom. Proper maintenance of sea otters’ fur is essential to the their survival because they rely on their coats for warmth.
During his 11-week rehabilitation, Dr. Haulena and the veterinary team at the Rescue Centre removed a number of pellets, performed multiple surgeries on his injured flipper and treated severe dental injuries that resulted from the shotgun blast.
Since his arrival this morning at the Aquarium, Dr. Haulena and staff are pleased at how quickly Walter has adjusted to his new habitat, where he is receiving the ongoing care he needs to be safe and comfortable. Guests can see Walter in his new surroundings in the Finning otter habitat.
Sea otters in British Columbia were wiped out by the fur trade in the early part of the twentieth century but, thanks to the relocation of almost 100 otters between 1969 and 1972, their population is increasing. Sea otters are a keystone species in marine ecosystems because they help maintain nutrient-rich kelp forests by eating sea urchins, a species that can decimate kelp forests if their populations are left unchecked.
Donate towards Walter’s care here.
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre
The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver and supported by Teekay Shipping, is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals. The Rescue Centre rescues stranded marine mammals and rehabilitates them for release back into their natural habitat.