A California sea lion that was shot with a crossbow and left to die off the northern Sunshine Coast has been rescued after an “epic” operation by federal officials and Vancouver Aquarium staff.
The male, who has been dubbed “Archie,” is now being cared for at the aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, where he’s being treated for “horrific” injuries.
Concerned residents called the rescue team to an area close to the Catalyst Paper mill on Tuesday. The team arrived to find Archie lying on a log boom with an arrow sticking straight out of its body, barely breathing.
The aquarium said the sea lion, which weighs around 250 pounds, was found severely dehydrated and under-fed.
“He’s likely been suffering for weeks and has been unable to forage and hunt which has worsened his condition,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, the head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
“It’s heart-breaking to find an animal in this state; it’s unacceptable to be harming wildlife like this.”
The aquarium says boat operator Archie Kenmuir — the sea lion’s namesake — and his team from Jepson Mobile Booming brought the log boom close to shore. The animal was then sedated.
Haulena then got onto the logs and managed to pull the arrow out of Archie’s body.
The entire team then worked together to wrap Archie into a tarp and remove him from the log boom and into a vehicle that took him to the rescue centre.
“It was truly an epic rescue. There is no other way to describe it,” the centre’s assistance manager Emily Johnson said. “The coordination and community effort to help this animal was amazing.
“It was an impressive sight and a silver lining to this sad story to see everyone come together to help this sea lion.”
Archie is now being treated with antibiotics and pain medication for his “massive” puncture wound. The rescue centre team says his eyes, which have abnormalities, show evidence of prior gunshot wounds.
Further examinations this week will determine the extent of his injuries and next steps in the animal’s care.
The aquarium says Archie is the third sea lion brought to the rescue centre in two and a half years to be suffering from human-inflicted injuries.
The first, dubbed Señor Cinco, was found on Spanish Banks in Vancouver in May 2017. Ukee, the second, was rescued from western Vancouver Island last October. Both had been shot in the head and blinded.