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Members of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal care team are on deck — along with experts from accredited aquariums across North America — for the intensive care of a rescued male beluga calf now in care at the Alaska SeaLife Center.
Stranded alone and struggling to survive, the calf was rescued near Trading Bay in Western Cook Inlet on Saturday, Sept. 30. It was transported to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, under a permit by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office (NOAA), for 24-hour critical care. Estimated at two to four weeks old, the calf is a member of the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale population, which consists of only about 340 individuals.
Working alongside the amazing team at Alaska SeaLife Center are veterinarians and marine mammal experts from Vancouver Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld and Mystic Aquarium; it’s a dream team with decades of hands-on experience caring for beluga whales. Several of the institutions operate marine mammal rescue centers and are deployed when a cetacean (whale or dolphin) requires human intervention to give it the best chance at survival.
Vancouver Aquarium marine mammal curator Brian Sheehan is on-site with the team in Alaska, working in shifts around the clock to provide intensive care to the calf.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, an Ocean Wise initiative, is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals, and is the only one of its kind in Canada. The Centre rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 animals each year; to date in 2017, the Centre has rescued almost 200 animals. For every patient, the goal is to treat, rehabilitate and return it to the wild as soon as possible. The veterinary team provides medical treatment to harbour seals, sea otters, sea lions, sea turtles, elephant seals, whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
The non-for-profit Marine Mammal Rescue Centre does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals. To make a contribution to the Rescue Centre, please visit www.vanaqua.org/donate.