On the evening of July 27, Sofia Eguiuguren and her family came across a seal pup in distress just outside Victoria, near Telegraph Bay on Vancouver Island. Seeing that the seal looked rather small and was alone on the beach, they gave the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver, a call to further investigate. After some back and forth exchange of photos and information, it was decided that “Iridium” needed to be transferred to the Rescue Centre for care.

After a night spent at the Central Victoria Veterinary Hospital, Iridium was flown over to the Rescue Centre the following morning via Harbour Air. Iridium was only a few days old, was severely dehydrated and weighed only 7.65 kilograms; quite small even for a new born pup. For the next 90 days Iridium was monitored by staff and volunteers and was eventually weaned off of tube feeding on to solid fish.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

Iridium putting on weight at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Sofia and her family kept in touch with Rescue Centre staff and volunteers, excited to hear news about his progress. They were inspired to donate to the Rescue Centre to help with Iridium’s care during his stay and the other 159 seal pups that have been rehabilitated so far this year.

After three months in care, Iridium was deemed releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada after achieving a body weight of over 20 kilograms and receiving a clean bill of health by our veterinary staff.

On Oct. 25, Sophia and her family made the journey from Victoria to Lions Bay to assist with Iridium’s release back to the wild.

Vancouver Aquarium seal release

Sofia and her mother come out for a rainy morning seal release to see Iridium released back to the wild.

“Releasing Iridium this fall was one of my most cherished experiences ever!” said Sofia. “The day I found him back in July, I was extremely sad and worried for his well-being. It was such an amazing experience to see how far Iridium had come from the tiny weak seal to the strong seal that I saw swim away in the ocean that day.”

Iridium and seven other seals got a new lease on life as they slowly made their way out into the bay. After a few hesitant moments of poking around in the water, they were gone.

Seal release Vancouver Aquarium Rescue Centre

After a few moments, the seal pups all swim safely away.

We are grateful to Sofia and her family who sponsored the release of Iridium and contributed to his care while at the Rescue Centre. Thank you to Sofia and to all the donors who make possible Canada’s only Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

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. With a cost of $50 a day to feed each and every seal, donations are greatly appreciated. Learn more about our dedicated staff and their amazing rescue stories by staying up to date on Facebook, Twitter or subscribing to our RSS feed.

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