‘Not all seal pups you see alone need to be rescued’

Scooped seals fare well so far at Vancouver rescue centre

‘Not all seal pups you see alone need to be rescued’

A quartet of seal pups call Vancouver home after being scooped from the shores of the south Island.

Bazzite was first noticed on a rocky outcrop near Sunny Lane in Oak Bay as a newborn. In the method prescribed by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, he was under surveillance for a bit before Oak Bay police were called in to package him up for the trip to the centre for health reasons.

Maternal separation, the primary reason most of the young Harbour seals are in care there, is listed as young Bazzite’s official intake reason.

RELATED: Oak Bay police officers rescue baby seal found on rocky shoreline

Bazzite was rescued from Oak Bay June 21 and arrived the next day via Harbour Air, which donates cargo space for transporting marine mammals to the centre.

“A large percentage of our animals do come from Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. It allows us to get the animals much faster,” says a thankful Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Bazzite was thin and still had his umbilical cord making him fewer than three days old when he arrived.

“He seems to be doing alright. He’s got a couple things going on. He’s a little quiet at times so we’re monitoring him quite closely,” says Akhurst. Bazzite has gained a little weight, had clean bloodwork and is getting daily fluids for dehydration.

Another near-newborn, Garnet was brought in from near a Victoria-area Canadian Coast Guard station. A staff member there spotted it there, and alerted the Vancouver marine centre. The next day when he went on shift, Garnet was still there, his mom nowhere in sight. He joined the patient list June 20.

“He’s keeping his food down, but he’s just very lethargic so he’s another one we’ve been keeping a very close eye on,” Akhurst says. He’s also on antibiotics and fluid therapy. While he’s gained a little weight, he “lacks spunk” shown by other seal pups his age, she added.

A pair of seals from Sooke, who are a little older and bigger, made their way to Vancouver June 24 after a few days at the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring.

Neapolitan and Banana Split are bigger animals and doing well. “They seem to be bright, alert responsive to their caretakers at this point,” Akhurst says.

The locals are just four of the many expected seal pups to come in to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this season. They cared for 200 last year.

Once an animal is stabilized and eating fish, staff and volunteers teach them to fish.

When they hit a certain weight and ability the young seals go into a larger pool. There, “they’ll forage on their own and compete with other seals,” Akhurst says.

At an average two months, when they hit the 20 to 25 kg weight and can forage on their own and are free from infectious disease, there’s talk of release.

“The goal of course is to always release the animals,” Akhurst says.

The rescue centre selects quieter, protected areas where there’s a known food source for group releases.

The goal, however, is to not have healthy pups in care. The last days of spring and early summer see a surge in pups, on land, docks and populated areas which can cause concern.

“It is seal pupping season, it is the time of year where seals are giving birth,” Akhurst says. “Moms do leave their pups for an extended period of time while they go out and forage. Not all seal pups you see alone need to be rescued.”

However, human interaction, tidal changes and weather can all separate a mother from a pup.

“We ask people if they’re seeing a seal that they feel is need of some assistance, is to call us,” Akhurst says.

Potentially have someone keep people and pets away from a baby while making the call, and send images and videos to the centre to give an idea of how healthy the young one is.

“If we notice in those pictures that they’re very thin, look injured in any way, we’ll expedite the rescue,” Akhurst says. “If it looks in good condition … we might just leave it and see if the mom does come back. The best chance for the animal to be healthy is to be with its mom.”

Call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325) to report a potential marine mammal in distress. Find the centre online at https://www.facebook.com/vammrc and rescue.ocean.org.

What’s in a name

Each year both marine animal care centres have themes for naming the mammals they help. This year the Vancouver facility’s theme is gemstones (Bazzite and Garnet) while the Salt Spring facility is ice cream (Banana Split and Neapolitan).

“We are a non profit organization that does run hugely on our volunteers. We have a strong volunteer base of over 300 people and small staff of under 15,” Akhurst says. “It’s nice to be able to get them involved in some of the things we’re doing and they love naming the animals so it’s neat to be able to have that for them.”


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College to offer digital and in-person classes this fall

In-person classes will be able to resume in September

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
B.C. forestry watchdog finds lack of compliance in Nahmint logging

Forest Practices Board says old growth and biodiversity near Port Alberni are at risk

Port Alberni Fire Dept. deputy chief Wes Patterson, right, and another firefighter monitor the front of a garage at Second Avenue and Argyle Street that burned on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Fire starts in empty garage on Argyle Street in Port Alberni

Garage was attached to empty multi-storey commercial building

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday, May 13

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

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