An orphaned male sea otter pup has been given a second chance at life thanks to the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and Vancouver Aquarium. ‘Joey’ was discovered alone on a beach in Kyuquot B.C. this summer, just days old and near a deceased adult sea otter, presumed to be his mother. He was flown by seaplane to the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre in Vancouver where he has been receiving 24/7 care over the past few weeks.
Now, stabilized and stronger, but deemed non-releasable by Government officials, Joey will receive long-term care among six other rescued sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative. Joey’s young age and inability to survive on his own were part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s evaluation and eventual decision regarding his options after rehabilitation.
Joey’s rehabilitation has been intensive as sea otter pups require around the clock care and are normally incredibly dependent on their mothers for the first six months of their lives. “We’ve had to begin teaching Joey all of his essential sea otter life skills,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “Everything from learning to groom himself, to swimming and feeding—these are all things mom would normally have taught him in the wild and Joey didn’t have that opportunity.”
Joey’s rehabilitation will now continue at the Vancouver Aquarium with a team of animal care experts to monitor his progress over the next few months. “Now that he’s a bit stronger and a tad more independent we’re excited to watch his progress as he masters all these skills. We’ll be introducing new foods, monitoring his weight gain and eventually we hope to introduce him to the other rescued otters at the Vancouver Aquarium so he can continue to learn from them as well,” said Mackenzie Neale, Director of Animal Care.
And for the first time ever, visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium will be able to watch Joey’s rehabilitation journey in his newly built nursery. Lucky visitors may catch glimpses of Joey’s bath and feeding times with his care team between his many naps.
Those wanting to help can ‘adopt’ the young pup to help support his ongoing care and rehabilitation journey. Or, you can donate to the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre to help support the rescue of approximately 150 marine animals each year.
The sea otter population in Canada was once hunted to extinction for their thick fur. In the 1970s sea otters were re-introduced to British Columbia. While populations are growing, they are still listed as a species of ‘special concern’.
The Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre — a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals — is the only one of its kind in Canada. Under authorization from DFO, the team rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 120 animals each year; 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.
If you see marine wildlife in distress, please keep people and pets away and call the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre hotline at 604.258.SEAL (7325) or Fisheries and Oceans Canada incident reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336.