Harbour seal found on Vancouver beach with 23 shotgun pellets in face

The seal was seriously injured by birdshot, now in treatment at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

A young harbour seal found suffering from a gunshot wound to the face may lose complete eyesight in one of her eyes, according to veterinarians at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

The pup, who is believed to be less than one year old, was found on Feb. 18 on Kitsilano beach in Vancouver. Officials at the centre said she was emaciated and lethargic, with 23 birdshot pellets embedded in her face. It’s believed she was shot weeks prior to being found.

Dr. Martin Haulena, the aquarium’s head veterinarian, said in a news release Tuesday the seal, who has been named Jessica Seal, is the fifth animal to be found badly injured by gunfire in recent years.

WATCH: Northern fur seal pup rescued near B.C. fish farm

READ MORE: Sea lion shot in face one year ago to live at Vancouver Aquarium

Last month, aquarium veterinarians travelled to Washington State to perform surgery on a pregnant seal shot in the head during a fishing derby.

On Friday, veterinary specialists took a thorough look at Jessica Seal’s injuries to determine how much vision she has left and to remove some of her damaged teeth. Birdshot pellets, usually used in shotguns, are made of either steel or lead inside a shell and scatter outwards when shot.

“We have no way of knowing who did this,” said Haulena. “I can tell you that she’s been suffering for several weeks, and we don’t know if she’s going to recover her eyesight enough to be released.”

Haulena said he’s concerned these types of injuries may become more common if a campaign by fishers to cull seals and sea lions gains ground. The Richmond-based Pacific Balance Pinniped Society has been pressing Fisheries and Oceans Canada to consider a managed Indigenous fishery for seals and sea lions.

READ MORE: West coast group campaigns for seal, sea lion harvest

WATCH: Giving the gifts of whale snot, prosthetic eyes and formula

“The person who did this would have known they wouldn’t kill her with birdshot. It was intended to hurt her, and it did,” Haulena said.

“The conflict on the water between humans and seals is not new — they want some of the same fish. I do worry people now feel more comfortable taking aim because they’ve been hearing seals are the bad guys, and they’re not.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

So Vancouver Island, you want to defund your police?

Examining what a nearly $10 million RCMP contract gets the people of Campbell River

Opioid crisis and COVID-19 pressing issues for mid-Island’s new medical health officer

Dr. Mike Benusic has been working in his new role with Island Health since July 2

Textured mats at Saanich intersections guide pedestrians with visual impairments

Yellow ‘tactile tiles’ make crossing busy intersections safer, District says

Vancouver Island officials can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

Leaders plead for education, as municipality lacks authority to enforce social distancing in public

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Poles mark growing bond between BC Hydro, Campbell River First Nations

Totem poles placed on the John Hart dam site a symbol of a stronger relationship

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Nanaimo Fringe Festival productions adapt to new online format

10th annual festival to be live-streamed due to COVID-19

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

Most Read