‘Not all seal pups you see alone need to be rescued’

Scooped seals fare well so far at Vancouver rescue centre

‘Not all seal pups you see alone need to be rescued’

A quartet of seal pups call Vancouver home after being scooped from the shores of the south Island.

Bazzite was first noticed on a rocky outcrop near Sunny Lane in Oak Bay as a newborn. In the method prescribed by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, he was under surveillance for a bit before Oak Bay police were called in to package him up for the trip to the centre for health reasons.

Maternal separation, the primary reason most of the young Harbour seals are in care there, is listed as young Bazzite’s official intake reason.

RELATED: Oak Bay police officers rescue baby seal found on rocky shoreline

Bazzite was rescued from Oak Bay June 21 and arrived the next day via Harbour Air, which donates cargo space for transporting marine mammals to the centre.

“A large percentage of our animals do come from Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. It allows us to get the animals much faster,” says a thankful Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Bazzite was thin and still had his umbilical cord making him fewer than three days old when he arrived.

“He seems to be doing alright. He’s got a couple things going on. He’s a little quiet at times so we’re monitoring him quite closely,” says Akhurst. Bazzite has gained a little weight, had clean bloodwork and is getting daily fluids for dehydration.

Another near-newborn, Garnet was brought in from near a Victoria-area Canadian Coast Guard station. A staff member there spotted it there, and alerted the Vancouver marine centre. The next day when he went on shift, Garnet was still there, his mom nowhere in sight. He joined the patient list June 20.

“He’s keeping his food down, but he’s just very lethargic so he’s another one we’ve been keeping a very close eye on,” Akhurst says. He’s also on antibiotics and fluid therapy. While he’s gained a little weight, he “lacks spunk” shown by other seal pups his age, she added.

A pair of seals from Sooke, who are a little older and bigger, made their way to Vancouver June 24 after a few days at the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring.

Neapolitan and Banana Split are bigger animals and doing well. “They seem to be bright, alert responsive to their caretakers at this point,” Akhurst says.

The locals are just four of the many expected seal pups to come in to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this season. They cared for 200 last year.

Once an animal is stabilized and eating fish, staff and volunteers teach them to fish.

When they hit a certain weight and ability the young seals go into a larger pool. There, “they’ll forage on their own and compete with other seals,” Akhurst says.

At an average two months, when they hit the 20 to 25 kg weight and can forage on their own and are free from infectious disease, there’s talk of release.

“The goal of course is to always release the animals,” Akhurst says.

The rescue centre selects quieter, protected areas where there’s a known food source for group releases.

The goal, however, is to not have healthy pups in care. The last days of spring and early summer see a surge in pups, on land, docks and populated areas which can cause concern.

“It is seal pupping season, it is the time of year where seals are giving birth,” Akhurst says. “Moms do leave their pups for an extended period of time while they go out and forage. Not all seal pups you see alone need to be rescued.”

However, human interaction, tidal changes and weather can all separate a mother from a pup.

“We ask people if they’re seeing a seal that they feel is need of some assistance, is to call us,” Akhurst says.

Potentially have someone keep people and pets away from a baby while making the call, and send images and videos to the centre to give an idea of how healthy the young one is.

“If we notice in those pictures that they’re very thin, look injured in any way, we’ll expedite the rescue,” Akhurst says. “If it looks in good condition … we might just leave it and see if the mom does come back. The best chance for the animal to be healthy is to be with its mom.”

Call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325) to report a potential marine mammal in distress. Find the centre online at https://www.facebook.com/vammrc and rescue.ocean.org.

What’s in a name

Each year both marine animal care centres have themes for naming the mammals they help. This year the Vancouver facility’s theme is gemstones (Bazzite and Garnet) while the Salt Spring facility is ice cream (Banana Split and Neapolitan).

“We are a non profit organization that does run hugely on our volunteers. We have a strong volunteer base of over 300 people and small staff of under 15,” Akhurst says. “It’s nice to be able to get them involved in some of the things we’re doing and they love naming the animals so it’s neat to be able to have that for them.”


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The District of Kitimat will be awarding business owners with a store front up to $5,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of exterior renovations. (Norhtern Development logo)
The District of Kitimat is awarding $5,000 to storefront owners for exterior renovations

The district has set aside $20,000 this year and non-profits are also eligible

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read