Seal pup Maëlle released after full recovery at Vancouver Aquarium
Named for an Olympic snowboarder, the young seal was found tangled in fishing net three months ago
Three months ago, she was found severely underweight with a nylon fishing net embedded an inch into her neck.
Now, Maëlle, the harbour seal pup rescued near Nanaimo, B.C., has been released back into the wild after making a full recovery at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, said the animal was about five or six months old when she was rescued.
"She was really underweight, so [the net] had probably been around her neck for what we're guessing was about a month's time," Akhurst said. "She weighed half the amount of the weight that she should've."
After rescuing the seal in December of 2015, aquarium staff removed the net and started her on a regimen of feeding and antibiotics. Now fully recovered, she was released this morning at Cates Park in North Vancouver.
Olympic gold namesake
The seal was named for Maëlle Ricker, an Olympic snowboarder who hails from North Vancouver.
Ricker was on hand for the seal's release, and said she was honoured by the naming.
"It's pretty cool," she said, laughing. "This is my first time meeting her."
The Vancouver Aquarium picks a theme each year for naming its rescued animals. In 2015, that theme was Olympic athletes. Ricker took home the gold medal in snowboard-cross at the Vancouver 2010 winter games.
A man-made problem
Akhurst said injuries like this are concerning because they're entirely due to human activity. She said the aquarium rescues about 150 animals in similar circumstances every year.
Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, urged all Canadians living near waterways to get involved in cleanup efforts.
"[Maëlle the seal] is one of the lucky ones, because she was rescued. She was treated, and she was able to be released," Le Souef said. "But there are plenty of animals out there that are being impacted by human litter every single day.
"We know that shoreline litter has impacts on wildlife and today we're seeing one of the really obvious ones."
With files from Rafferty Baker