It’s the second week of July and harbour seal pupping season is well underway, which for us means an increase in calls and reports to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. We already have 33 seals admitted this year, with likely dozens more expected over the course of the summer. This week we wanted to highlight seal pup PV1527, otherwise known as “Chris Higgins” as our rescue of the week thanks to our friends at HMCS Quadra Cadet Training Centre, located in Comox Harbour, approximately 240 kilometres north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.
The Cadets spotted a pup lying alone on their dock, not moving or attempting to go into the water for a couple of days. There was an adult seal observed in the area three days prior but it hadn’t been sighted recently. Mother seals routinely leave their pups on shore while they forage for food, however after a few days this pup’s mother had not been back to feed him and he appeared to be getting weak and tired.
After quietly observing the pup from a safe distance to allow the mother time and space to come back, navy Lt. Stewart called the Rescue Centre on July 7, 2015 and explained what he and the other Cadets had observed. They were able to send photos of the seal pup for our marine mammal rescue team to assess his condition. It was determined that this seal pup needed our assistance and so the Cadets sprang into action to help the little guy out.
Naval cadet Servais, who fortunately had previous marine animal handling experience, placed the pup in a crate and our friends at Mountainaire Avian Rescue stopped by to pick him up. While seal pup Chris Higgins was waiting for his flight to Vancouver, Mountainaire Avian Rescue volunteers administered rehydrating fluids. Shortly after he was on his way to our Rescue Centre courtesy of Harbour Air Seaplanes.
Estimated to be less than a week old, Chris Higgins, named for the Vancouver Canucks forward, has settled in well and is being tube fed five times a day to help him gain weight, as well as receiving subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate him. Once this process is complete and his teeth grow bigger, he will be weaned onto whole fish in anticipation for his release back into the wild later this year.
Thank you to everyone in involved in Chris’ rescue from Vancouver Island. If you spot a seal pup in distress, please stay back and call the Rescue Centre at: 604-258-SEAL (7325).
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre presented by Port Metro Vancouver and supported by Teekay Shipping 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.