Nine seal pups were set free at Blackie Spit Oct. 8
Approximately 70 Vancouver Aquarium volunteers gathered to say goodbye to the seals. The animals were in the aquarium’s care for the past two to three months.
Most of the pups were less than five days old when they were brought into the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
“They got extensive around-the-clock care from our staff and volunteers. When they first came in they would still be nursing off their moms. We tube feed them with a high-fat, high-protein formula,” said manager Lindsaye Akhurst.
Once the pups are strong enough they are gradually put on a herring diet. After they are comfortable eating the herring, they are taught how to fish.
“(Fishing) is not something that they get right away. It’s something that they have to learn in the wild and from their mothers. Some of them do get it right away, some of them take a bit longer,” Akhurst said. “It depends on each seal individually.”
The seals are brought in from other B.C. rehabilitation centres and from members of the public who call in after seeing a seal pup on the beach that might need care.
VAMMRC goes through a series of questions with the person who found the seal to determine if it needs rescuing.
“It’s normal to see a seal pup on the beach without its mom. While the mom forages for food she will leave the pup on the beach to rest,” Akhurst said.
If the pup was found locally, representatives from the organization would check out the animal. If it’s from one of the islands, it’s flown in by either Harbour Air or Pacific Coastal Airlines.
“I would say more than half of our animals have been on some flight or another,” Akhurst said.
Blackie Spit was selected as a suitable release spot because seals are known to inhabit this area and there’s not a lot of boat traffic.