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'Wouldn't have survived': Two baby seals rescued in B.C.

A seal in White Rock and one in North Vancouver needed to be rescued days apart.

Two baby harbour seals needed to be rescued in B.C. after being found in dire condition. 

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Society (VAMMR) was notified by the public about two harbour seal pups in danger on Monday and Tuesday. 

An underweight and dehydrated seal pup was spotted near the White Rock Pier on Monday.

Society assistant manager Emily Johnson explains how someone heard the seal pup crying and looked down to see just its hind flippers sticking out of the rocks. 

“Somehow he had been trapped in the rocks above the high tide line,” says Johnson. “Once we got over to the breakwater there, it was definitely clear that he would not have been able to extract himself from that location on his own.”

Using a whale-watching vessel from White Rock Sea Tours, Johnson and a colleague paddled to the seal and were able to extract him. 

On Tuesday morning, they were notified by a contractor at Mosquito Creek Marina in North Vancouver about a struggling seal pup in the water just off the dock. 

"The pup, estimated to be only a few hours old, was struggling to stay afloat with the placenta still attached,” says Johnson.

Using a net, they managed to scoop the seal up and bring it back to the aquarium. Its mother was nowhere to be found.

Both of the seals are now in the care of staff and volunteers at VAMMR. The seal that was rescued on Monday has been named Nelson and is stabilizing well. 

“We're starting to correct that dehydration; that was a big factor for him,” she says. “We know that he wouldn't have survived on his own if we weren't able to bring him back to the centre.”

Gustav is the second seal and has a "guarded prognosis" given that he was born prematurely. 

“It’s going to take him a lot longer to stabilize,” says Johnson. “We’re watching him very closely.” 

It could take six weeks to get the seals through their rehabilitation. Once they are 23 kilos, they’re then eligible for release, pending a full health screen and approval from the veterinarian. 

Johnson praises the people who contacted them about the seals. 

“The members of the public that reported these two cases to us did exactly what they should do. They stayed back, they quietly observed, they didn't interfere with the pups, they called us right away,” she says. 

VAMMR tends to get busy with rescued guests during the harbour seal pupping season, when they’re born, which is the end of June and the beginning of July. 

"We're always excited for things to get up and running. We're excited for our volunteers to come back. We have over 200 volunteers that work with us,” she says. 

While the rescued seals aren’t accepting visitors, VAMMR does have an adoption program and accepts donations

Anyone who sees a marine mammal in distress should stay back, keep other people and animals away, and call the Marine Mammal Rescue Society at 604-258-SEAL (7325) or DFO at 1-800-465-4336.

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