British Columbia

Permanent rescue centre for marine mammals

The Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has received a funding boost of nearly $406,000 from the federal government.

The Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has received a funding boost of nearly $406,000 from the federal government.


The cheque was presented to the aquarium by the B.C.'s senior minister in the federal cabinet, Stephen Owen.

Aquarium officials plan to use the money to build a permanent facility for the more than 100 harbour seals that come through the makeshift rehabilitation centre every year.

Most of the pups are separated from their mothers and are found washed up on shores along the coast.

"The number one injury is wounds," says veterinarian Dave Huff of the Vancouver Aquarium. "When they're abandoned on the beach, they're pretty helpless."


Dave Huff and Stephen Owen
Huff says the seals get a lot of bites and broken bones from inquisitive dogs, and further north, from wolves roaming the beach.

Many of the pups arrive at the centre thin and malnourished, only a few weeks old. The staff give the animals fluids and teach them how to eat and hunt fish. The marine mammals are released after about three months.

The aquarium also helps larger marine mammals, such as Springer, a Canadian killer whale orphaned in U.S. waters. The massive operation which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars was successful in reuniting the whale with her pod.

The aquarium's next major project may involve saving Luna, a young killer whale that has developed an unhealthy affinity for boats in the Gold River area on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Luna was cut over one eye on Monday after running into a propeller on a small fishing boat.

But federal fisheries spokesperson Marilyn Joyce says officials are not too concerned, because the cut isn't as serious as feared.

"It's a fairly minor cut, and in fact Luna over the past two years has had several cuts which is very normal for killer whales," she says. "They often play with logs and sticks and get a bit bashed up with that.

Joyce says the department will continue monitoring Luna and expects to make a decision on whether to attempt relocating the animal soon.

Luna has been separated from his pod for the past two years.

now