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Rescued porpoise beats the odds, continues to improve at Vancouver Aquarium

A harbour porpoise rescued from Saanich inlet on Vancouver Island in March continues to defy the odds.

Levi was spotted on the rocks of the inlet in a very rough shape. He was critically ill and had heavy parasite loads in his lungs and stomach.

Vancouver Aquarium took him in for rehabilitation, and Levi was placed under 24-hour watch.

Because he was unable to swim on his own, Levi was being brought out on a special support sling for exercise several times a day.

“This is an animal that spends all of its life swimming in the water…He had a lot of muscle damage because he was bearing his weight on land, so that was one of the biggest things we had to deal with,” Lindsaye Akhurst, the Manager of Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, told Global News.

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Akhurst says Levi has been under their care for over one hundred days now and is showing major signs of improvement.

Levi’s chances of survival were very low. Akhurst says he had just a 10 per cent chance of making it through the transportation to the aquarium, let alone the first 24 hours of rehabilitation.

The porpoise started showing signs of improvement about a month and a half into his stay at the aquarium.

“He was getting much stronger,” says Akhurst. “We were able to allow him out of the support sling more. He is now in a larger pool and is able to swim fully on his own.”

Levi still requires human assistance to eat, although he is starting to show some interest in wild fish.

But he still has quite a ways to go before he can be released.

“These are tricky animals to rehabilitate,” says Akhurst. “He’s been with us for just over three months, and it can take up to six or more months for us to determine [when he will be released].”
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