Unusual, injured seal pup rescued from Masset

  • Jul. 8, 2015 4:00 p.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverA week-old harbour seal pup was rescued from the Masset harbour along the highway June 16 and transported to the Vancouver Aquarium for treatment. The pup showed swelling and puncture wounds on the top of his head, believed to have been caused by a predator. The seal is now being tended to by the Marine Mammal Rescue Team at the Vancouver Aquarium. “Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release,” said Emily Johnstone, who is a part of the crew rehabilitating the seal pup. “He has a unique dark coat which is very rare for this time of year,”  Ms. Johnstone said. The pup, named Jeremy Wotherspoon after the Canadian speed skater and Olympic medalist, might not have a future in speed skating but the aquarium reported he is doing much better than when he arrived. When Jeremy Wotherspoon gains weight and can eat fish on his own, he will be released within 50 kilometers from his original rescue site. He will have to go from his current weight of 8.5 kilograms to 20 kilograms before he will be considered for release. He is now being fed a formula and is showing improvements. Soon he will be introduced to fish and paired up with another pup when his quarantine is over. Ms. Johnstone is adamant that if people find a lone seal pup to leave it be and follow some vital protocol. “Pups spend a good part of their time on shore,” she explained. “There is a chance that the mother won’t come back for the pup if people or animals are around.”It is suggested to stay a good distance away from a seal pup and call the DFO if there are concerns about its safety. The DFO will then work with the aquarium to decide if the pup is in need of rescue. “I understand people have good intentions when dealing with them, but it needs to be dealt with properly,” Ms. Johnstone said. This is the first pup to go to the Vancouver Aquarium from Haida Gwaii in recent memory. Last year the facility released 163 rehabilitated harbour seal pups back into the wild. Maternal separation is the leading reason for the rescue of the young animals. “The pups’ best chance of survival is with their mothers,” Ms. Johnstone said.

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