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On Friday September 25, 2015, 11 seals made their way back into the ocean after being given a second chance at life at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Each year the Rescue Centre rescues and releases over 100 seal pups and this year was no exception with 136 seals admitted from June through September. Most seal pups are only a few days old when they arrive at the Rescue Centre, and are often showing signs of dehydration and are underweight.

Vancouver Aquarium seal rescue centre

These 11 seal pups take a first dip back in the ocean.

While moms do leave their pups on beaches and haul outs to forage, in some cases mom might not have been able to return, or she isn’t able to forage enough food to keep herself and her new pup well fed.

In these cases we often receive calls from the public of a seal pup who hasn’t move from their location for more than 24 hours. After reviewing photos when possible, our Rescue Team makes a decision and then springs into action to see how we can assist.

For the 136 seal pups admitted this year, each receives a special formula when they first arrive and specialized medical care before they are slowly weaned on to full fish as they grow larger.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue

Staff and volunteers work tirelessly throughout the summer to nurse these pups back to health.

“It’s been a busy summer with often multiple rescues a day during our busiest summer months,” said Emily Johnson, assistant manager at the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “It’s amazing to see these pups grow and thrive — some as small as only six kilograms when they arrive — to well over 20 kilograms by the time they are released. We couldn’t do it without the hard work of our dedicated staff and volunteers who work at the Rescue Centre.”

The first 11 seals were released down at Cates Park last Saturday and had a helping hand from David Ousted and Kekuta Manneh of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who each released their namesake seal pup. Fifteen more seal pups were also released back to the ocean over the weekend. Each of the seals who are released have been tagged with an orange marker on their hind flippers so that we can keep track of their movements should they be seen again in the future.

Vancouver Aquarium seal release

Kekuta (left) and David (right) stopped by to release their namesake seal pups.

While pupping season is over, you may still notice smaller seals hauled out on beaches throughout the fall. It’s especially important to give them their space as they may be learning to forage on their own now.

If you do spot a seal or marine mammal that does appear to be in distress, stay back and call the Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325).

One way you can help support the Rescue Centre and their work with harbour seals each year is by adopting your own today through our newest addition to the Aquadopt family — seals!

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. Learn more about how your donation to the Rescue Centre helps to support rescued and rehabilitated seal pups each year.

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