Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Emergency personnel and bystanders joined with Marine Mammal Rescue Centre staff to try to save a stricken steller sea lion found on a beach in north Nanaimo.

The animal was discovered Thursday at about 11 a.m. by a man walking his dog on Invermere Beach, located at the bottom of a steep, high bluff at the end of Invermere Road.

“He came upon a sea lion. He actually almost tripped over him because he didn’t realize he was there,” said Emily Johnson, assistant manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, based in Vancouver. “He did the right thing and gave us a call.”

Johnson said the man took pictures of the animal and sent them to the centre so staff could identify the species and get some idea of the animal’s behaviour and condition. Upon determining the sea lion needed help, the centre applied for permission from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean to put a response team together to collect the animal and caught a ferry for Nanaimo. The team arrived at the site at about 6 p.m.

“He was definitely not exhibiting any sort of normal behaviour, so we opted to sedate him and sling him and carry him up to the road,” Johnson said. “It was quite an undertaking.”

Access to Invermere Beach is via a set of more than 300 stairs, but the team opted to carry the sea lion – which Johnson estimated weighed between 300 and 350 kilograms – up a trail that runs alongside the stairs, with some help from people in the community.

“It was one of those things where everything sort of came together,” she said. “The community really rallied. Weirdly enough, my husband has a friend [who works for] the City of Nanaimo and there’s a friend who’s an RCMP officer … so we had some muscle to help us get all the way up the road, but … we did it. It was a huge undertaking, for sure. It was definitely the most physical rescue I’ve ever been a part of.”

Johnson said the sea lion was actually underweight. In spite of the Herculean efforts to save the animal, it died not long after it was placed in the transport carrier.

“Sadly, not the outcome we were looking for … but with every response that we go on our team always learns something,” she said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-memorable animal stories of 2020

READ ALSO: Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-memorable animal stories of 2019

The sea lion’s body was driven to a pathology lab on the Lower Mainland where a necropsy will be conducted to try to determine the cause of death.

Johnson said there have been more frequent incidents of sea lions having been killed with firearms, but a radiograph conducted Thursday night didn’t reveal any projectiles or foreign bodies in the carcass.

“The strange thing about it is there were no obvious wounds and no injuries that we could see…” she said. “Honestly, I really couldn’t even have a guess for you.”

Johnson said she was impressed with the efforts people in Nanaimo put in to help save the animal.

“What a great little community, though. I could tell everybody was very invested in helping,” she said.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AnimalsEnvironmentWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off midway down the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021 during a series of training flights. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
New plan recognizes industrial strengths of Alberni Valley airport

Strategic plan identifies AVRA as Vancouver Island’s premier industrial airport

A piece of artwork from Port Alberni artist Jim Sears. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist shares watercolour images of the coast

Rollin Art Centre holding a garden clean-up on April 18

The Alberni Golf Club is located on Cherry Creek Road. FILE PHOTO
ALBERNI GOLF: Parhar picks up win in Partner with a Pro

Next Sunday, April 18 is a two man best ball

Two of the heritage buildings from McLean Mill National Historic Site that have been restored at the Port Alberni tourist attraction. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
McLean Mill application breaks new ground for ALC

Process just another ‘misstep’ by city, says critic

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)
Coulson Aviation’s newest helitanker takes flight

Converted Chinook helitanker off to U.S. for new paint job

Legendary broadcaster Bernie Pascall is among in the Class of 2021 to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (PQB News file photo)
Island broadcasting legend Bernie Pascall named to CFL Hall of Fame

Pascall named by Football Reporters of Canada as inductee in the 2021 class in the media category

A Sooke man died Tuesday afternoon after his car left the roadway in 7500-block of West Coast Road around 1:30 p.m. and hit a tree. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke man dies when car slams into tree

The man’s SUV left the roadway and struck a tree

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read