A group of rehabilitated seal pup patients are home for the holidays! On Tuesday, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre staff, together with ‘sea-lebrity’ guests, actors Jacob Tremblay and his sister Erica Tremblay released seven seals back to the ocean; including Jacob’s namesake, ‘Ja-cod Tremblay’ who was found wounded, alone, and underweight as a result of maternal separation this August on a British Columbia beach. Now, healed and healthy, the seven rescued seal pups have been deemed fit to return home—just in time for the holidays.
“I was so honoured that the Vancouver Aquarium team would name a seal after me. The ocean is a big part of our lives; I don’t think humans would be here if it weren’t for the ocean,” said Jacob Tremblay on the importance of caring for our marine life. “You always see things like plastic cups in the ocean and it’s really sad…were destroying the ocean without even noticing, so I’m doing my best to keep our oceans clean.”
The seals released Tuesday also included ‘Swimmy Fallon’, ‘Emily Carp’, ‘Tom Sealleck’, ‘Roe Paul’, ‘Rhino’ and ‘Moose’. Ja-cod is not the only rescue pup patient to receive celebrity attention. Earlier this season, ‘Swimmy’ got some recognition of his own when The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a laugh in a tweet about Swimmy’s unique aversion to baths to his 51 million followers.
Ja-cod and Swimmy were released together, with Swimmy racing into the water eagerly. Ja-cod hung back with his celebrity pal Jacob for a few more moments before being encouraged into the water.
“It’s a satisfying and fitting end to this rescue season,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre manager. “Our naming theme this year was sea-lebrity puns, so it was amazing to have Jacob and his family here to help us raise awareness for ocean conservation today.”
In total, nearly 120 marine mammals were rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue center in 2019, including three sea lions who were freed of marine plastic pollution.
The goal of each rescue is to rehabilitate and release. The recovery process can be intensive and often includes helping the pups gain weight via tube feeds until they are old enough to eat fish. Once they’ve mastered ‘fish school’ they are placed into larger pools with other pups to encourage competition for food. After reaching their goal weight and mastering the skills necessary to survive on their own, the seals are ready for release. You can watch the journey from rescue to release here.
Among the unique cases admitted to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this year were Berni, the hypothermic olive ridley sea turtle, and Archie, the California sea lion shot with both a gun and crossbow. Both are still in care at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
You can help support the ongoing rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals in distress by becoming a Marine Mammal Rescue Centre donor.
If you see a marine mammal that you believe is in distress: stay back, keep people and pets away, call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325), or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada hotline at 1-800-465-4336.