Seal pup season started last month, and so far three pups in distress have been brought from the Coast to the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre for rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, only two of them have survived.
A small female seal pup dubbed Molybdenum came in from Gibsons on July 15, but she didn’t live long.
“She was in really rough shape, super skinny, and we saw a decline right away. Despite all our efforts, we weren’t able to get the animal to a point where we thought she could continue on with rehabilitation,” said Lindsaye Ackhurst, manager of the rescue centre.
“There’s a reason why we’re called to rescue these animals, and sometimes they’re in really rough shape and they just don’t make it. The animal will be going to our pathologist and a full necropsy will be performed on her, and then we’ll be able to see exactly what went on.”
The other two seal pups, Selenium from Roberts Creek (brought in July 9) and Platinum from Halfmoon Bay (rescued June 18) are doing well, putting on weight and getting stronger. Eventually the seals will be released back into local waterways.
All three baby seals ended up at the rescue centre after area residents called to report they were on shore and in distress, Ackhurst said.
She noted seals do leave their babies on shore for a short period of time to hunt for food, but that if anyone has a concern about the health or well-being of a seal they should contact the centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325) or call 604-862-1647 after hours.
“We can assess the animal over the phone. If they are able to take pictures of the animal we can take a look to see how the animal is, if it’s skinny and dehydrated or if it looks quite plump. We can at least assess it by the picture,” Ackhurst said, noting people should endeavour to keep dogs back and not crowd distressed seal pups.
“It’s not only safety for the animal, but for the dogs as well. These are wild animals that can be unpredictable and we don’t know why they might be ill.”
Things to look for that would indicate a seal pup needs help are wounds or swelling, laboured breathing, a thin or dehydrated appearance or being unresponsive and lethargic.
Seal pups in need of rescuing and rehabilitation are taken to the centre at the Vancouver Aquarium where they’re cared for until they are strong enough, and skilled enough, to fend for themselves.
The non-profit rescue centre relies greatly on donations from the public to do its work. Find out more at www.marinemammal
center.org. Seal pup season ends in September.
© Coast Reporter