California Sea Lion Rescued by Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

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Sea Lion Rescued by Vancouver Aquarium

Aug 24, 2011


Vancouver, B.C. –Vancouver Aquarium’s veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, and the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre’s staff were rushed to Vancouver Island to assist a California sea lion in distress yesterday, August 23. Rescued off the shore of Ucluelet, the young adult male was spotted by locals with a foot-long fishing flasher hanging from his left cheek. This sea lion is the first California sea lion to be rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

 “When we arrived on site, we immediately knew he wasn’t in good shape. The fishing hook was embedded quite deep in the gastrointestinal tract and we noticed his poor condition; he was emaciated, dehydrated, very weak and suffering from a deep wound on his back. He was swimming with difficulty,” explains Dr. Haulena.

Thanks to the help of Fisheries and Ocean Canada, the 200-kilogram sea lion was brought to the shore and then transferred by ferry to the Rescue Centre late last night. He is currently being stabilized in a fresh water pool; which allows him to drink and re-hydrate naturally. Fluids and food will be offered today, and he has been started on a course of antibiotics by the Rescue Centre animal care team.

A series of diagnostic testing will be performed on Thursday, August 24: endoscopy, x-rays, ultra-sounds and blood work will confirm the location of the hook and how best to remove it. His survival chances are estimated at 50 per cent – and the next 72 hours will be critical.

“Marine debris can cause severe harm to our sea animals. We are asking boaters and fishermen to be very cautious with their equipment,” adds Dr. Haulena. “In this case, the sea lion may also have come close to the shore and boats looking for food. It is critical that passerby don’t feed these animals as they then associate humans with food and can get hurt by fishing gear.”

Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals. The Centre rescues abandoned mammals and rehabilitates them for release back into their natural habitat. Donate to the Centre at

Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium is a global leader in connecting people to our natural world, and a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research and direct action. Learn more at

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