Seal pup rescued by kayaker

Two-week old now being nursed back to health in Vancouver after he was found in Schooner Cove near Nanoose Bay

Io the seal pup

Io the seal pup

A baby seal saved from Schooner Cove appears to be doing well and could eventually be released back into the wild.

“At this point I would say we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre where the seal is being nursed back to health.

She estimated the pup to be two weeks old and said he was quite emaciated, dehydrated and dealing with some other clinical issues when it was flown to them Monday morning by Harbour Air.

“He’s a bit quiet, but feisty when he’s fed by tube five times a day,” Akhurst said.

Heather Marshall told CHEK News she’d seen the pup trying to climb into boats, including her kayak, and eventually rescued it from a swim pad behind a boat.

She said mothers often leave their pups in the bay for protection and go out hunting, but in this case, the mother went hunting around the time a pod of transient killer whales was seen in the area and she never returned.

Akhurst said Marshall got in touch with them and they had her send pictures, which showed the pup to be in poor condition. They will continue to stabilize it with nutrition and hopefully sort out any other medical issues.

“Once we get him up to weight he will be weened onto fish and moved into the bigger pools,” she said, concluding that while it is very early and they may not know any underlying conditions, if things go well they should be able to release Io in a few months.

The rescue centre helps more than 100 animals a year.

Experts point out it is not unusual for a mother to leave baby seals alone while they feed. If you find one, keep a distance of at least 100 metres and keep an eye on it to see if the mother returns. Take note of the animal’s condition, keep pets away and call for help assessing if it needs help.

The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (http://www.vanaqua.org), which helps more than 150 animals a year, can be reached at 604-258-SEAL (7325) or 604-862-1647 after hours.