VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Close to 200 stranded, sick and injured marine mammals have been rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this year.
“It’s been incredibly busy,” says Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Rescue Centre.
The total number of harbour seals rescued reached a record-breaking 189 this year so far, shattering the 2005 record of 174.
“We’re happy whenever we can save an animal, no matter how big or small. It’s why we do what we do,” says Akhurst in a release. “When we can alleviate suffering and save a life, it’s gratifying … and we’re saving a lot of lives this year.”
According to the centre, those rescued help scientists learn about the coastal ecosystem, as well as the threats animals are facing in the wild.
“Every animal we work with can shed further insight into contaminants, biotoxins, and infectious diseases that can also affect ecosystem health,” explains Akhurst.
In a release, the Aquarium says rescue teams take the necessary steps in order to ensure animals are not taken from their habitat unless absolutely necessary for treatment.
The Rescue Centre claims the majority of their rescues did in fact need medical attention, with many of the seal pups needing treatment for dehydration, malnutrition, and animal attacks.
In additions to the harbour seals, the centre has also rescued a northern fur seal, a Steller sea lion and pup, an adult California sea lion, and a male sea otter pup this year.
The Aquarium received criticism earlier this year before the Vancouver Park Board decided to ban the captivity of cetaceans.
Aquarium CEO John Nightingale argued the ban would severely limit the ability of the Rescue Centre.
He claimed –at the time– that whales or dolphins saved from the wild would possibly have to be put down if they were unable to be released back into their habitat, because they would not be allowed to be housed at the facility.
The ban does not affect the rescue of animals like seals, otters and other marine mammals, only cetaceans.