With seal pupping season just around the corner, $125,000 must be urgently raised to reopen and operate Ocean Wise’s animal rescue, rehabilitation and release center for 2020

With seal pupping season just around the corner, the not-for-profit Ocean Wise Conservation Association is putting out a public call for donations to help re-open one of its most beloved and long-running initiatives — the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, the only facility of its kind in Canada.

In March, shortly after Ocean Wise closed the not-for-profit Vancouver Aquarium due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ocean Wise was also forced to close the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, located in Burrard Inlet, due to lack of funds.

Rescue Centre staff are urgently calling for public support to raise $125,000 to re-open the animal hospital, and to conduct animal rescues for the rest of 2020.

“Over the years, the Marine Mammal Rescue program has rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of ocean animals including seals, porpoises, otters, turtles and sea lions,” said Ocean Wise head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena (Haulena is the head veterinarian at both Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and Vancouver Aquarium). “We also travel up and down the coast responding to medical emergencies including disentangling marine mammals caught in fishing gear or plastic. No one else in Canada, and few people around the world, have the skills and expertise our team does to help in these situations.”  

As seal pupping season begins and Ocean Wise and DFO begin receiving large numbers of calls about baby seal pups in distress on BC beaches, staff at the Rescue Centre are hopeful they will be able to resume their critical work.

For the first time, the Rescue Centre is making a unique offer to donors: for donations of $1,000 or more, you can Name a Baby Seal Pup! You’ll also get regular updates about your seal pup, a tax receipt, and be invited to participate in its eventual release back into the wild! You can also Adopt a Seal for $35, or simply make a donation, in any amount, to Marine Mammal Rescue. Full details can be found on the Marine Mammal Rescue website at rescue.ocean.org.

“Every donation, no matter what size, will help support the care of the 100-plus seals, sea lions and other wild marine animal patients we help every year,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “But we are hoping that people will get excited about the prospect of naming a specific seal pup, and participating in it’s eventual release! It could be a gift for a special someone, a group fundraising project, or a meaningful corporate sponsorship.”

The cost of rescuing, medical care, feeding and releasing of a single seal pup during its average 10-to-12 week stay in the Rescue Centre is approximately $3,000. In addition, the Rescue Centre goes through approximately $40,000 a year in seal pup feeding formula. And a single dart and the sedation drugs used to immobilize a sea lion in the wild so it can be disentangled from fishing gear or other debris costs $350.  

“The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is part of Ocean Wise and the Vancouver Aquarium’s legacy in British Columbia,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Ocean Wise president and CEO. “Although we can’t afford it, we know we have to find a way to re-open it. It’s part of our commitment to Canadians to be there for these animals.”  

If the fundraising target can be reached, the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre would reopen immediately, under enhanced COVID-19 protocols to protect the animal care teams and the animals that depend on them.

“We also want to take this opportunity to remind people that if you see a marine mammal that you believe is in distress, stay back, keep people and pets away, and call 604.258.SEAL or the DFO at 1.800.465.4336,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, rescue centre manager. “Not all seal pups observed alone need rescuing and we will determine whether the pup is exhibiting normal behaviour or if intervention is required.”

To make a donation, ‘Adopt a Seal’ or to ‘Name a Seal Pup’ go to  rescue.ocean.org.


In partnership with Daily Hive

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