A starving northern fur seal pup is being rehabilitated by Vancouver Aquarium, after he was rescued by residents of a remote island off Vancouver Island.
In a release, Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, said the seal pup was spotted off the coast of Ahousaht on Flores Island.
“While northern fur seals can be found in BC, it’s a pelagic species, which means they spend most of their time far offshore. We don’t often see them close to land,” said Akhurst.
“When he was spotted, this little guy was exhibiting unnatural behaviour, appeared emaciated and was spending time in a location with heavy boat traffic.”
The out-of-its-range seal pup, thought to be about seven months old, arrived at the Rescue Centre on Sunday, and has been under intensive observation ever since.
“He arrived in poor condition, emaciated and dehydrated. He’s much smaller than we would expect a pup of this age to be,” said Akhurst.
“He has already shown some improvement, he’s able to digest solids, is maintaining hydration and starting to gain weight. We believe he is stable enough now for a more thorough physical exam that we’ll perform in the next day or so.”
Northern fur seals forage in BC
Northern fur seals, which live throughout the Pacific Rim from Japan to the Channel Islands of California, are recognized as a threatened species in Canada.
Although the seals do not come to Canada to give birth, British Columbia’s waters are an important foraging area for them between January and June.
This week’s northern fur seal pup rescue was extremely unusual for the Vancouver Aquarium – but not without the ultimate precedent.
The first ever patient of the Rescue Centre was in fact a stranded northern fur seal pup rescued in 1960, and named Nippy.
And you know what? Right now, we need some more cute seal photos in our lives and we’re pretty sure you do too.
Here are a few more photos of northern fur seal pups in the wild to keep you going. We’ve got to protect these little guys.