Marine Mammal Rescue 101: Call Before Taking Action

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The busy stranding season is in full swing for the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver, with 50 seal pups admitted and receiving expert care, and dozens more expected through the summer months.

It’s a good time to remind the public what to do if they come across a marine mammal they believe is in distress, says Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Rescue Centre.

“Call us,” she says. “No matter where you are in British Columbia, we’ll assess the animal through a series of questions and with photos. Not every pup spotted alone is in need of rescue, so that assessment is critically important to ensure that a healthy animal isn’t brought in for treatment when it doesn’t need to be.” She adds that mother seals will often leave their newborn pups to rest for long periods of time while they forage for food before returning. “We ask those who find a seal pup not to touch it and to keep their pets away, until we can determine if it needs help.”

If you see a stranded marine mammal, do not approach it and keep pets away. Call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.

The Rescue Centre rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 animals each year; last year, the team rescued 145 animals. The goal for every rescued marine mammal is to treat, rehabilitate and return it to the wild as soon as possible. As well as harbour seal pups, the veterinary team provides medical treatment to sea otters, sea lions, sea turtles, elephant seals, whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

This year, supporters and donors to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre are choosing names for the seal pup patients; among those now getting veterinary care and nutrient-rich formula five times a day are Jude, Winnie, Lou-seal and Sealy McSealface. Fundraising for the construction of a new hospital building on the site is a priority. Many of the Centre’s animal patients require lifesaving surgical procedures, and until now, the team has performed these surgeries and procedures in a standard backyard garden shed.

“We provide exceptional animal care in the ‘Med Shed,’ as we call it, but it’s not an ideal arrangement,” says Akhurst. “We’d love for people to help us finish the new hospital by donating.” The new building is now in place and interior construction is underway; the team hopes it will be operational by the end of August.

Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit society and does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals. To make a contribution to the Rescue Centre, please visit

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver, is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals. The Rescue Centre rescues stranded marine mammals and rehabilitates them for release back into their natural habitat. Donate to the Rescue Centre at

Media Contact

April Penney
Ocean Wise