‘Ukee’, a sea lion that was shot in Ucluelet, was euthanized at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Thursday. (Photo - Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

Sea lion found shot off Vancouver Island dies at Vancouver Aquarium

“He wasn’t responding to treatment, and his condition had taken a significant downturn.”

A sea lion that was shot in Ucluelet died yesterday at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

The adult male Steller, named ‘Ukee’ by the centre’s staff, was discovered in Ucluelet on Oct. 10 and transported to the centre on Oct. 11. After roughly two weeks of treatment, the veterinary team made the difficult decision to euthanize the animal, according to a post on the centre’s Facebook page Friday afternoon.

READ MORE: Sea lion rescued in Ucluelet suffering from gunshot wound to the head

“He wasn’t responding to treatment, and his condition had taken a significant downturn in the last two days,” said the aquarium’s head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena. “At this point we had to evaluate his quality of life. Although we are disappointed we couldn’t return him to full health, we are glad we could end his suffering and make his final days more comfortable. I am so proud of the team for the incredible care they gave him.”

‘Ukee’ was severely underweight at around 350 kilograms—healthy male Steller sea lions can reach around 800 kilograms—when he arrived at the centre. Veterinarians found at least one bullet lodged in the animal’s skull and determined he had been blinded.

It is illegal to shoot a sea lion without a permit in Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is investigating.

READ MORE: DFO investigating shooting of sea lion in Ucluelet

West Coast marine mammal researcher Wendy Szaniszlo told the Westerly News she was frustrated by Ukee’s death and said many people believe sea lions compete with fishers.

“Sea lions are unpopular because it is perceived that they eat a lot of fish, specifically commercially targeted fish such as salmon,” she said. “Because of that, they are seen as competition and likely some folks are maybe wanting to take it in their hands to try to limit any kind of fishery-sea lion interactions…I find it very disheartening and frustrating too.”

READ MORE: Nails endangering sea lions on Ucluelet float spark DFO investigation

She added that “there is very little information” around what sea lions specifically prey on and said her own research suggests salmon is only one small part of a sea lion’s diet.

“Salmon is a portion of their diet, but it’s not the biggest part of their diet and certainly not chinook salmon,” she said. “They are feeding on a wide variety of different types of fish as well as octopus and squid, it’s not specifically chinook salmon.”

She added that she was happy to see so many community members come to Ukee’s aide and report the distressed sea lion to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-7325 and DFO at 1-800-465-4336.

“The Vancouver Aquarium was able to rescue the animal and do what they could to help it and try to save it. It’s just unfortunate it had the outcome that it did,” she said. “To me, it warms my heart that, while there are some people out there that truly dislike sea lions and are willing to cause them harm, there are many people out there that do like them and will do what they can to help rescue and rehabilitate them as well.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Entangled sea lion rescued near Tofino



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

Stellar musicians, performers recognized at 54th Pacific Northwest Music Festival

More than 150 awards, scholarships given out to Northwest B.C. participants

Cyclist braking stigma on addiction from coast to coast

Mathew Fee aims at world record for longest distance on BMX bike while sharing his story of recovery

MP Nathan Cullen to testify at oil tanker ban committee hearings

Senators travel to Prince Rupert and Terrace as part of fact-finding mission on Bill C-48

Hazelton RCMP officer pleads not guilty to assault

A trial date for Const. Eric Unrau will be set on Apr. 23

UPDATE: Four victims identified in deadly Penticton shooting spree

John Brittain, 68, faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Verdict scheduled in Giesbrecht murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court justice will render his decision May 24

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

B.C. trucker pleads guilty to lesser charges in fatal Manitoba crash

Gurjant Singh was fined $3,000 and given a one-year driving prohibition.

Most Read