Seal pup Meghan Mackerel (left), here seen with Prince Herring, at Vancouver’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, was among three pups rescued from local beaches with the help of Sidney’s Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue centre)

Seal pup Meghan Mackerel (left), here seen with Prince Herring, at Vancouver’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, was among three pups rescued from local beaches with the help of Sidney’s Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue centre)

Sidney’s Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea helps deliver seals to rescue facility

Residents are asked to stay away from seal pups and call for help in doubt

Kit Thornton, head of animal care at Sidney’s Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, is preparing to help and possibly house, if only for a short while, rescued harbour seal pups.

By virtue of its location, trained staff and resources, the centre plays an important role in helping the Vancouver-based Marine Mammal Rescue (MMR) centre do its job.

Thornton, who previously worked at the centre and holds a diploma in Veterinary Technology in addition to being a marine biologist, expects pups to be coming soon.

“It is definitely getting to the end of May, the start of June, when they start to come in,” she said.

Pupping season for harbour seals usually starts in late May and mothers will periodically leave single pups alone for several hours while foraging. It’s not uncommon to see a lone seal pup on shore, Thornton added.

“Usually, the mom stays pretty close in the vicinity.”

Thornton offers this advice to anyone who comes across a lone seal on shore: “The best thing to do is to stay back, and when in doubt, call the (MMR). They have people there answering the phones and they will be able to give you the absolute best guidance for that particular situation.”

MMR experts may monitor an animal for up to 24 hours, she added.

Occasions do arise when the rescue centre asks staff at the Shaw Centre to help rescue seal pups, the most common cause being maternal separation. Reasons that may separate mothers from pups include disruptive behaviour from humans and dogs, which is increasing, said Thornton. “Or else, the mum hasn’t come back. Maybe she was eaten by an orca or something.”

RELATED: Sidney Island visitors asked to stay away from seal pups

In 2020, Shaw Centre staff helped rescue four pups, one more than in 2019 and two more than 2018.

The good news first: all of them were later released into the wild after undergoing rehabilitation.

“When they are found, they usually have been away from their moms for 24 to 48 hours,” Thornton said, and often they are dehydrated. “You can tell if they are dehydrated, because they have very dry fur around their eyes. A well-hydrated, healthy seal pup will naturally have ‘wet eye rings.’”

They will also appear very underweight, she said, noting that “a seal pup should be nice and round.” Other signs include extra skinfolds and protruding hip bones. Common injuries pups are found with include lacerations to their flippers and issues with their eyes.

If asked to look after an animal, centre staff will assess it and make travel arrangements to MMR by boat, helicopter or Harbour Air, which often delivers animals at no cost, said Thornton.

If immediate transport is not possible, the animal stays overnight at the centre before being shipped out to Vancouver for specialized care to address injuries and help recovery. The animal then undergoes training to learn the skills needed to survive in the wild. Once it has proven its ability to thrive it is weighed, health-checked, tagged and released back into the wild.

MRR rehabilitates more than 100 marine mammals per year. It can be reached at 1-604-258-7325 or find more information at vanaqua.org/marine-mammal-rescue.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

EnvironmentrescueSaanich PeninsulaWildlife

Just Posted

Police are asking opponents of logging near Port Renfrew not to involve their children following additional arrests Saturday. (Black Press Media File)
Police arrest eight protesters including two minors near Port Renfrew Saturday

RCMP ask parents not to involve their children in Fairy Creek logging protests

Future grads at Oak Bay High will have greater scholarship opportunities available through the Oak Bay Rotary Club. (Black Press Media file photo)
Private donor quadruples donations to Oak Bay Rotary scholarship funds

The club has awarded more than $25,000 to Oak Bay High students

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read