Archie, the California sea lion who arrived at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this month following a dramatic rescue, underwent a follow-up physical examination this week that confirmed a horrific past. Already severely injured and underweight as a result of his crossbow injuries, veterinary staff determined that Archie’s eye abnormalities were caused by an old gunshot wound to the face.
Archie’s radiographs revealed 12 pellets embedded in his head, confirming suspicions that his impaired vision was the result of a gunshot wound; an injury he’s likely been living with for some time, according to his care team.
“I was disappointed to see the pellets. We knew that this animal had already been through a lot, but confirming he’d survived something like this as well
— it’s disturbing,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
“We’re thankfully seeing some signs of improvement in Archie already,” said Emily Johnson, assistant manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “He is eating well and continues to stabilize. He’s also going for frequent swims in his rehab pool which is great physiotherapy and very reassuring,” she added.
Although his journey to recovery is just beginning, Archie’s care team wants to be clear that shooting wildlife unpermitted is illegal and a slow death sentence. “No animal deserves to go through this. It’s a really agonizing way to go, I’m thankful we were able to intervene,” said Dr. Martin Haulena.
Archie is not the only sea lion to arrive at the rescue centre with gunshot wounds to the face. Senor Cinco and Ukee were both admitted after being discovered lethargic, blinded and underweight as a result of gunshots.
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 (DFO) hotline at 1-800-465-4336.
You can help support the ongoing rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals in distress by becoming a Marine Mammal Rescue Centre donor.