The Vancouver Aquarium is mourning the death of Daisy the harbour porpoise, one of the facility’s three remaining cetaceans.
Rescued in 2008 when she was just one month old and stranded, she died on Thursday.
According to Aquarium staff, there was a change in her behaviour earlier this month, which led to increased monitoring and precautions by the veterinary team. She received around-the-clock care from Aquarium veterinarians and a specialist from the Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo when her health deteriorated this week.
“Daisy helped change the way the scientific community approaches the rescue and care of harbour porpoises and other cetaceans in distress,” said Vancouver Aquarium head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena in a statement. “She’s also helped with improve the overall understanding of porpoise biology, bioacoustics, and behaviour.”
The Aquarium’s experience with Daisy led to the successful rescue and release of harbour porpoise Levi in 2013 and the successful rehabilitation of Chester. The federal government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans determines whether a rescued animal is fit for release, and Daisy was deemed unfit.
“In her shy, gentle way, Daisy captivated the hearts of so many people … mine included,” added Dr. Haulena. “It’s always very difficult when we lose an animal. But as sad as we are by Daisy’s passing we are equally grateful for our time caring for and learning from her.”
Her death leaves the aquarium with Chester and Pacific white-sided dolphin Helen. Over the last few years, five other belugas were temporarily relocated to other facilities in North America in anticipation of a $100-million project to expand the tanks at the Stanley Park facility, but their future is unknown.
Last fall’s sudden deaths of Qila and Aurora, a mother and infant duo of belugas, prompted the Vancouver Park Board’s controversial decision to ban the Aquarium from keeping cetaceans.
Yesterday, the Aquarium announced it would seek to overturn the ban by legally challenging the Park Board’s right to interfere with the Aquarium’s operations.