Thanks to sharp-eyed observers and swift action by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, a badly injured adult male sea otter is now under veterinary care; it’s hoped he will make a full recovery.
“We had a number of reports last week of a male sea otter in the ocean near Tofino, floating high in the water, appearing very bloated and unable to dive,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.
Together with officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, members of the Rescue Centre team carefully netted the sea otter just south of Vargas Island on Thursday, and transported him back to the Rescue Centre in Vancouver.
The otter had extensive subcutaneous emphysema, or air trapped in the layer under his skin.“Based on our findings of a fractured rib and increased muscle enzymes on blood work, our initial diagnostics indicate blunt force trauma, possibly from a boat strike, that fractured the rib and led to the collapse of a lung,” said Dr. Haulena. “The air trapped under the skin is actually a sign of healing, as it has moved from the thorax and is allowing the lung to expand again. The real problem for this guy was because of the excess air, he couldn’t dive or forage and would have starved.”
Now dubbed Corky, because of the way he was floating when found, the otter is receiving supportive care, regular meals, and pain management. “We’re also continuing to keep an eye out for underlying causes like an algal toxicity or an encephalitis that may have made him more prone to getting hit by something,” said Dr. Haulena. “We are doing everything we can to ensure he has the best chance for a successful rehabilitation for the eventual release back into local waters.” As with all marine mammals saved by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, any eventual decision about Corky’s release will be made by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Thanks to Orca Airways, Tofino Coast Guard, Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society, and BC Ferries who also aided in the rescue.
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 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 learn more about the animals the Rescue Centre rehabilitates and make a donation to help out injured animals like Corky by donating today.