British Columbia

Rehabilitated seal pups flop back into ocean

After several months of rehabilitation, four harbour seal pups were fitted with satellite-linked transmitters and released into the waters off Porteau Cove Provincial Park.

Four harbour seal pups were fitted with satellite-linked transmitters before being released into the waters

Rehabilitated B.C. seal pups released into the wild

CBC News BC

5 years ago
0:47
Vancouver Aquarium releases four rehabilitated seal pups into Howe Sound. 0:47

After several months of rehabilitation, four harbour seal pups were released into the waters off Porteau Cove Provincial Park on Friday. 

The seal pups are roughly three to four months old and are named Ziggy, Bubbles, Siberia and Sinbad. They were brought to the Vancouver Aquarium separately over the summer from Comox, Cowichan Bay, Fanny Bay and Sechelt. 

The animals were in need of rescue after they were separated from their mother. 

The rescued seal pups, all three to four months old, were rescued over the summer. (Vancouver Aquarium)
The release went smoothly except for a few seal pups that were hesitant to leave their cages but did so after a little encouragement. (Vancouver Aquarium)

The release went smoothly, except for a couple of seal pups that were a little reluctant to leave their cage. 

"We usually see that, so it was just nice to see them actually out there and now they're actually swimming around, exploring their new home," said Lindsaye Akhurt, manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammals Rescue Centre. 

More than 160 seal pups have come through the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre this year and, so far, 70 of them have been released. 

The four sea pups were equipped with satellite-linked transmitters glued to their heads. (Vancouver Aquarium)

Unusual accessory

The four seal pups were fitted with temporary satellite-linked transmitters before being released into the wild. The satellite tags were attached to their heads with animal-safe glue, according to the Vancouver Aquarium.

"The actual transmitter itself is a very small device, it weighs less than lets say your cell phone ... once the seals have been out there for a while and actually go through a moult in about six to nine months that transmitter will fall off," said Akhurt.  

The Vancouver Aquarium says the data will help it learn about the seal's habitat, foraging and other behaviours. 

The tags also allow the public to follow the animal's approximate location through the Vancouver Aquarium's web site.

Porteau Cove Provincial Park was chosen as the location to release the animals because of its accessibility, safety and availability of food. (Vancouver Aquarium)

The seals were released at Porteau Cove Provincial Park because it is safe for the seals and accessible.

"Not a lot boat traffic around this time of year ... and we know the area has other seals so there is a food source around, which is great," said Akhurt. 

​Rescued seal pups have a greater chance of rehabilitation if the Vancouver Aquarium attends to them quickly, so it's asking the public to not approach the animal but instead report marine mammals that appear to be distressed by contacting its Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-7325. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Lovgreen

Video Journalist

Tina is a Video Journalist with CBC Vancouver. Send her an email at tina.lovgreen@cbc.ca

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