VANCOUVER, B.C. – It’s touch and go for the first seal pup patient of the year at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre: a tiny premature male, admitted yesterday, May 23, after being found alone on Anvil Island in Howe Sound by a member of the public. The pup has been named Emerald, after the birthstone for the month of May. This year’s naming theme for harbour seal pups is gemstones and minerals.
At just 6.8 kilograms, Emerald is very underweight, has remnants of his umbilical cord still attached, and is covered in the soft fur of a premature pup (called lanugo). The pup was observed alone throughout the day on Wednesday, with no adult seals in the area, before the decision was made to rescue him. The team is always cautious about taking action, explained Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Rescue Centre.
“This is the start of pupping season along our coast, so at this time of year, you’ll sometimes see newborn pups left to rest while their mothers forage for food. The mother will usually come back. We ask those who find a seal pup not to touch it and to keep their pets away. Call us, we’ll assess the animal, then decide if a rescue is needed.”
After transport by boat to Porteau Cove, Emerald was taken to the Rescue Centre by the team, where he is now receiving a nutrient-rich formula five times per day and close monitoring by the veterinary team. Akhurst said his condition is still critical. “It’s always a more challenging recovery for premature pups,” said Akhurst. “They miss important early nutrition and support from mom, so they’re not off to a great start.”
Members of the public are invited to symbolically “adopt” a seal pup at support.vanaqua.org/seals, which will help fund the ongoing rehabilitation efforts of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. It rescues, rehabilitates and releases about 150 animals each year; while most of the patients are harbour seal pups, the veterinary team has provided medical treatment to elephant seals, sea otters, sea lions, whales, dolphins and porpoises, most of which are successfully released back into the wild. Last year, the team rescued more than 200 seal pups, three sea lions, a northern fur seal and a sea otter pup. The goal for every rescued marine mammal is to treat, rehabilitate and return it to the wild as soon as possible.
If you see a marine mammal that you believe is in distress, do not approach it and keep pets away. Please call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.
Vancouver Aquarium® Marine Mammal Rescue Centre
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, an Ocean Wise initiative, 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 www.vanaqua.org/donate.
Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative, is one of the world’s leading accredited aquariums, dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. www.vanaqua.org
Ocean Wise is a not-for-profit organization whose vision is a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing. www.ocean.org