A California sea lion rescued from the shores of Spanish Banks is suffering from gunshot wounds to his face.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre received reports on Friday of an emaciated, lethargic sea lion at the busy public beach. Staff took him in for treatment and named him Señor Cinco, as he was rescued on May 5.
The sea lion was given a full exam under general anesthetic. In a news release, the aquarium explained Señor Cinco was shot twice in the face, with bullets shattering his teeth, blinding him in one eye, and possibly hitting his optic nerve.
Head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena says the injuries were not new, and the animal was underweight, which means Señor Cinco has likely been in distress for weeks.
“It’s not yet possible to know if Señor Cinco will be a candidate for release or if he would require long-term care — release is the goal for every animal rescued by the Marine Mammal Rescue Program. As always, it’s a decision made by Fisheries and Oceans Canada,” said Haulena.
California sea lions breed off the coast of southern California and the Baja peninsula, but during non-breeding season large numbers migrate north to B.C.
In 2013, the Vancouver Aquarium rescued a sea otter named Walter who was also found with gunshot wounds. He was deemed non-releasable due to his blindness and partial amputation of a flipper. He passed away at the estimated age of 15 to 17 years old in 2015.