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Marine rescue team plucks bunny from boat in iced-over East Sooke cove

The owner had left the rabbit behind on the cruiser moored in Anderson Cove, then became stuck in the ice

Little Bunbun had an emotional reunion with his owner after Royal Canadian Marine search and rescue members plucked the rabbit from a liveaboard boat in iced-over waters off East Sooke and carried him to shore.

The rabbit’s owner had headed to shore in a small boat on Sunday, leaving his pet behind on the 30-foot cruiser moored in Anderson Cove, but his boat became stuck in the ice.

Search-and-rescue members were called out but stood down when someone else helped the man reach land.

They decided to break a path through the ice with their 32-foot rigid-hull inflatable craft toward the cruiser as a part of a training exercise, said William Schmalz, one of the crew members with Station 37 in Sooke.

On Wednesday, Schmalz, coxswain Ian Waugh and Jeff Gowland were heading out on the water when they heard there was a rabbit on board the vessel moored in the cove. Schmalz called the owner and received permission to board the cruiser.

Coxswain Waugh boarded the vessel, where the friendly free-roaming rabbit hopped up to him.

The medium-sized rabbit was wrapped in a blanket and taken on board the rescue boat, along with some rabbit food from the cruiser, and popped into a tub for safety. Bunbun was comfortable throughout, Schmalz said. “Quite happy to come with us.”

They met the owner on shore, who “was very grateful to see Bunbun and a little bit teary at the time. It was quite an emotional thing for him,” Schmalz said.

Search and rescue members “love to help the community out,” he said. “Normally, our mission is to save lives on the water and promote good seamanship and that sort of thing,” he said, but retrieving the rabbit “was the right thing to do because [the owner] was nervous about the animal.”

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