Monday evening marked the start of the seal pup rescue season for our team at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver.
The tiny male pup — still covered in the soft fur of a newborn, called lanugo, and with remnants of his umbilical cord still attached — has been assessed as just a few days old. He was found in Fanny Bay by the owner of a local RV Park, who rescued the pup and took him to Comox for a donated flight on Harbour Air to Vancouver, where he was greeted by the Rescue Centre team. The pup is in poor condition but getting top-notch care, including a nutrient-rich formula five times per day and close monitoring by the veterinary team.
This year, the naming theme for rescued harbour seals is athletes. Since Canada is now hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup, soccer is the first sport of choice. The pup has been called Lionel Messi, after the Argentine footballer considered by many to be the best male player in the world.
June marks the start of pupping season along B.C.’s coast. At this time of year, the newborn pups are often left to rest while their mothers forage for food. It’s important for concerned beach-goers to observe a pup before taking action; adult female seals are unlikely to rejoin a pup if there is activity, such as people and dogs, nearby.
“We ask those who find a seal pup not to touch it and to keep their pets away. Call us, and we’ll assess the animal,” said Emily Johnson, acting manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “The mother will often come back, although unfortunately, that’s not always the case.”
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 animals each year; last year, the team rescued more than 160 animals. The goal for every rescued marine mammal is to treat, rehabilitate and return it to the wild as soon as possible. While most of the patients are harbour seal pups, the veterinary team also provides medical treatment to elephant seals, sea otters, sea lions, whales, and porpoises, most of which are successfully released back into the wild.
If you see a stranded marine mammal, do not approach it and keep pets away. Please call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.
Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit society and does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals. You can make a difference by donating to the Rescue Centre today.
The Vancouver Aquarium 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. Learn more about our ongoing work at: vanaqua.org/marine-mammal-rescue