Advertisement

No rescue in sight for trapped sea lion

Kiyo is waiting for rescue.
Kiyo is waiting for rescue. Courtesy of: Facebook, Saving and Protecting Kiyo and Any Other Sealions in Distress

Vancouver Island residents continue to press authorities to help liberate a sea lion entangled in fishing line.

Kiyo the sea lion was first sighted in Fanny Bay in February and has its neck wrapped up twice by the line that is now penetrating his skin.

Local residents sounded the alarm when Kiyo stopped responding to other sea lions and became inactive.

When experts with the Vancouver Aquarium and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) attended to try to free Kiyo two weeks ago, he could not be located.

The Vancouver Aquarium told Global News they are going back to do more disentanglements, but there is no clear timeline.

They say there are many animals in a similar situation, and they want to help as many as they can.

Story continues below advertisement

But Fanny Bay residents like wildlife photographer Netonia Chatelaine say more needs to be done.

Chatelaine says Kiyo has been back since March 17. She says she has informed DFO about his return, but claims no further rescue attempts have been made so far.

She says it looks like Kiyo has put on some weight, but the wire is protruding deeper into his neck.

“It just does not make sense to me. I don’t understand how people can sleep at night knowing that this is happening,” says Chatelaine.

But mammal experts with the Vancouver Aquarium say there are up to 400 sea lions similarly entangled throughout B.C.

The Aquarium says last fall they began a sea lion disentanglement project with funding from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

They have now gone on two out of six possible rescue trips funded by the project.

On March 10 and 11, after public outcry about Kiyo’s plight, a rescue attempt was made.

PHOTO GALLERY: DFO rescue attempt 

Courtesy: Saving and Protecting Kiyo and Any Other Sealions in Distress, Facebook
Courtesy: Saving and Protecting Kiyo and Any Other Sealions in Distress, Facebook
Courtesy: Saving and Protecting Kiyo and Any Other Sealions in Distress, Facebook

Five members of Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, including Head Veterinarian Martin Haulena, were sent out.

Story continues below advertisement

Haulena is the only veterinarian in Canada experienced in these kinds of disentanglements.

Over two days on the water, they spotted six sea lions that had their necks entangled in marine debris.

One animal had a plastic packing strap removed from its neck by Dr. Haulena.

The Aquarium says there are significant costs associated with travel and medical supplies used in disentanglement attempts, so they require a lot of planning.

Meanwhile, aquarium staff warn the public not to attempt any rescues because sea lions are large, wild animals. They say improper removal of entangled gear can also seriously injure the animal.

If you see a marine mammal in distress, call Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604 258 SEAL (7325) or Fisheries and Oceans Canada at 1 800 465 4336.