The Vancouver Aquarium is thrilled to welcome its two newest residents, rescued harbour seals. Due to the severity of their injuries, they have been deemed non-releasable by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Aquarium will now be their home, and the public is encouraged to visit them.
Skeena, who is named after the Skeena River which houses several harbour seal haulout locations, was found on August 4, 2022, in South Surrey, swimming frantically in the Serpentine River. She was admitted to the rescue centre with severe eye injuries that required intensive care. Her right eye healed but remains nonvisual, while her left eye, which was more severely affected, was surgically removed.
Pym is named after Pym Island rocks which is a harbour seal haulout along the BC coast. She was found at Whiffin Spit in Sooke, BC and admitted to the MMR on September 19, 2022. Pym was brought into the rescue centre due to multiple wounds, dehydration, and poor body condition. Once stabilized, she was diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts and is nonvisual.
“These seals have overcome so much in their time at the rescue centre. We are fortunate their care will continue at the Vancouver Aquarium, where they will be important ambassadors for our rescue program,” said Marine Mammal Rescue Centre Manager Lindsaye Akhurst.
“It is important to remember that it is normal to see marine mammals inhabiting our local waters, and while they may look approachable, they are wild animals, and we need to respect that. The best thing you can do if you are observing a marine mammal, you suspect needs assistance is to keep people and pets back and to call the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or MMR,” said Akhurst.
“We are excited to provide a forever home for Pym and Skeena and world-class care for these two charismatic seals. They will be ambassadors to their species to educate the public on the importance of caring for the British Columbia coast and aquatic life,” said Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammals Curator Julianna Kirkelie-Kim.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is Canada’s only dedicated marine mammal rescue facility and one of the largest in the world. The Centre has rescued and rehabilitated marine mammals for over 60 years. The facility allows for on-site rehabilitation of seals, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles and small cetaceans. The Centre also responds to off-site marine mammal emergencies, including disentangling sea lions along the coast.
“Our 60 plus year marine mammal rescue program remains a core commitment of the Vancouver Aquarium, and this important work continues. The number of animals admitted each year highlights MMR’s critical role,” said Vancouver Aquarium Executive Director Clint Wright.