British Columbia

Rescued seal pups tracked by satellite

The Vancouver Aquarium says satelllite tracking data shows that five rehabilitated seal pups returned to the ocean are adapting well to the wild.
The five seals were released on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast northwest of Vancouver Oct. 16. (Vancouver Aquarium)

The Vancouver Aquarium says satellite tracking data shows that five rehabilitated seal pups returned to the ocean in mid October are adapting well to the wild.

It’s the first time the aquarium has tagged the animals with satellite transmitters, and the technology is giving researchers excellent data on the animals’ activities, said Lindsaye Akhurst is the manager of the Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.  

"They've all put on quite a few kilometers. One has almost exceeded 1,200 kilometres," Akhurst said. "Some of their foraging we've been able to track to see what they're doing, where they're going, how far they're diving."  

Akhurst said the harbour seal pups were less than a week old when they were rescued and are now about five months old.

She said the seals' progress suggests the handling and care techniques used at the Rescue Centre were effective.

The satellite tracking device can be seen on the back of the seal's neck. (Vancouver Aquarium)

"We employ rehabilitation and feeding techniques that discourage over-familiarization with humans," said Akhurst. "Their post-release activity suggests our efforts are successful. The seals are thriving in the wild, which is very encouraging."

The animals were released into the wild on the Sunshine Coast, northwest of Vancouver.