UPDATE: The Vancouver Aquarium has admitted four harbour seal pups to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre as their busy rescue and rehabilitation season begins, however one of the pups didn’t make it.
Every June, newborn pups are left on the beach to rest while their mothers forage for food, the Vancouver Aquarium explained in a release.
However, sometimes the mothers don’t return for their babies if there is activity on the beach, such as dogs or people nearby.
“We always ask those who find a seal pup to simply keep an eye on it and call us, so we can assess the animal,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. “The mother will often come back, although unfortunately, that’s not always the case.”
Pups that are determined to be abandoned by their mothers are then taken to the rescue centre to rehabilitate and hopefully be released back into the wild.
This year, the pups will be named after the periodic table of elements.
GALLERY: Three abandoned seal pups rescued in B.C.
On Monday, “Nickel” was found along the shoreline of Belcarra Regional Park by a staff member at Camp Howdy. The staff member left the seal for almost 24 hours waiting for its mother to return before calling the rescue centre.
Nickel is believed to be only a few days old, as she still had the soft white fur of a newborn and remnants of her umbilical cord still attached.
The Camp Howdy staff member brought the pup in his boat to Deep Cove where she was picked up.
The second seal, “Tungsten,” was found in Pipers Lagoon in Nanaimo on Tuesday and was flown for free by Harbour Air Seaplanes to Vancouver.
The last pup, “Helium,” was found on a log boom in Bella Coola and arrived at the rescue centre on Thursday.
Vancouver Aquarium spokesperson Deana Lancaster said that Helium was premature and sadly died Friday.
“The lanugo (white fur) they have at this time of year signifies that they’re premature, which means they require a lot of extra care,” she said, adding that another pup was admitted Friday.
The pups are being hand fed formula and are being closely monitored by the veterinary team.
The Vancouver Aquarium says they rehabilitate and release approximately 100 animals every year.
While most of the patients are harbour seal pups, elephant seals, sea otters, sea lions, whales, and porpoises have all been treated at the centre. Most of the animals have been successfully released back into the wild, the aquarium said.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada determines which animals are suitable for release.
The public is urged not to approach stranded marine mammals and to keep pets away. If you spot an animal in distress, call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-7325.