An emaciated seven-month-old northern fur seal pup found far from home is now getting care at the Vancouver Aquarium’s rescue centre.
The pup was saved off the small west coast community of Ahousaht after being spotted by some concerned residents. He appeared to be undernourished, showing unnatural behaviour and was in a location with heavy boat traffic.
“While northern fur seals can be found in B.C., it’s a pelagic species, which means they spend most of their time far offshore. We don’t often see them close to land,” Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Rescue Centre, said in a statement.
Admitted to the centre on Saturday, the pup has been under intensive observation by rescue centre staff and treated with fluids, gastric protectants and antibiotics.
“He arrived in poor condition, emaciated and dehydrated. He’s much smaller than we would expect a pup of this age to be,” Akhurst said.
“He has already shown some improvement, he’s able to digest solids, is maintaining hydration and starting to gain weight. We believe he is stable enough now for a more thorough physical exam that we’ll perform in the next day or so.”
Northern fur seals, which have a threatened wildlife status, roam through the Pacific Rim from Japan to the Channel Islands of California. According to the aquarium, there are six established rookery sites, or breeding colonies, where northern fur seals mate, give birth and nurse their young.
Currently, the seals do not have an established rookery in Canada, but the four to five-month breeding season is followed by a seven to eight-month foraging phase, which includes the animals spending their time feeding mainly in offshore waters. The waters of B.C. are considered an important foraging area with the largest numbers (about 20 to 150 kilometres offshore) from January to June.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has rescued only one other northern fur seal before in 1960. He was named Nippy and was the very first patient of the rescue centre.