The busy summer rescue season has begun at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, with its first two seal pup patients admitted this week. Since Canada will celebrate the 150thanniversary of Confederation this summer, the naming theme for seal pups rescued in 2017 is Canadian cities and towns.
Male pup Princeton — named for Princeton, B.C. — was observed on his own for several days near the remote Knight Inlet Lodge in Glendale Cove, B.C. At just 7.3 kilograms, he is underweight, dehydrated, covered in the soft fur of a premature pup, called lanugo, and has remnants of his umbilical cord still attached. On Sunday, May 28, he was transported to Campbell River on a floatplane leaving the lodge, then flown to Vancouver by Pacific Coastal Airlines, which made room for him on a full flight.
Female pup Georgina — named for Georgina, Ont. — was observed dodging boats at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Staff were concerned about her safety, and reported her to the Rescue Centre. The tiny 6.1-kilogram pup is also covered in the lanugo fur of a preemie, with remnants of her umbilical cord still attached.
Both pups are now getting top-notch care, including a nutrient-rich formula five times per day and close monitoring by the veterinary team.
Both Princeton and Georgina were in need of rescue, but that’s not always the case, cautions Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “This is the start of pupping season along our coast, so at this time of year, you’ll sometimes see newborn pups left to rest while their mothers forage for food. The mother will usually come back. 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.”
Members of the public are invited to symbolically “adopt” a seal pup at support.vanaqua.org/seals, which will help fund the ongoing rehabilitation efforts of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. It rescues, rehabilitates and releases about 150 animals each year; last year, the team rescued more than 170 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 has provided medical treatment to elephant seals, sea otters, sea lions, whales, dolphins 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.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver, 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. Donate to the Rescue Centre at www.vanaqua.org/donate.