The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is tracking five rescued and rehabilitated seal pups with satellite-linked transmitters to better understand their foraging behaviours and habitat use.
The seals were released back to their natural habitat last Saturday on the Sunshine Coast and are being monitored by the Rescue Centre from afar.
“This is very exciting because, for the first time, we will get the opportunity to learn more about where the seals go after they receive hundreds of hours of rehabilitation and are released, along with how far they disperse,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
“We only release seals that we know are healthy and have the ability to survive on their own but, beyond that, we know very little about their movements after they’re released. This gives us an amazing opportunity to monitor their whereabouts and activities post-release.”
Satellite tags, provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, were attached to the top of the seals’ heads where they will stay attached to the seals’ pelage for approximately six to nine months, until the seals moult. In this pilot project, Rescue Centre staff will track the seals’ movements via satellite in the hopes of learning more about their foraging behaviour and habitat use.
“It’s important to further our understanding of what happens to these animals post-release,” added Dr. Martin Haulena, Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian. “The Vancouver Aquarium is committed to improving the lives of animals not only while they’re in our care, but also after they are returned to their natural habitats as well.”
The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine animals. Helping more than 150 stranded animals a year, the Rescue Centre saves marine animals and rehabilitates them for release back into their natural habitat.