British Columbia

Seal shot in face now under care of Vancouver Aquarium

The young female was found on Kits Beach last month with 23 birdshot pellets in her face.

The young female was found on Kits Beach last month with 23 birdshot pellets in her face

The young harbour seal was found seriously injured by birdshot at Kits Beach on Feb. 18. (Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is caring for a young harbour seal that suffered serious injuries from being shot in the face with birdshot.

The female animal, estimated to be less than a year old, was found emaciated and lethargic on Kits Beach Feb. 18, with 23 pellets embedded in her face. The wounds were beginning to heal over, leading veterinarians to believe she had been injured weeks earlier. 

Head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena said there's no way of knowing who shot the seal. 

"I can tell you that she's been suffering for several weeks, and we don't know if she's going to recover her eyesight enough to be released."

Last week, veterinary specialists examined the seal under anaesthetic to remove damaged teeth and assess how much vision she has remaining.

Haulena worries that seals are increasingly at risk for these types of injuries because of a campaign by fishermen who believe the seal and sea lion population needs to be culled to preserve salmon stocks.

"I do worry people now feel more comfortable taking aim because they've been hearing seals are the bad guys, and they're not," he said.  

Staff at the Aquarium have named the animal Jessica Seal.

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