As someone who spends part of every day swimming 2.5 km in the ocean (occasionally accompanied by seals) not to mention scuba diving and boating on most weekends, I have a tremendous interest in all things aquatic, particularly for those creatures who make it their home and I have the privilege to encounter. While I'm always fascinated with the colourful invertebrates and fish of the Pacific Northwest, there's nothing more stirring than being close to a marine mammal. Warm blooded like ourselves, but still living in the ocean, their intelligence, grace in the water, and the way they interact with humans, seems to generate a special bond between us all.
|Humpback in White Rock|
|Flash Gordon being released|
|Levi being released|
|Springer in the wild|
|The "Med" Shed|
|Titanium with his umbilical cord still attached|
|Seal being released|
|Jack in rehab|
|Jack and Daisy|
There are those who think the Rescue Centre is a front for supplying the Aquarium itself with animals to put on display but that's simply not the case. The mission of the Rescue Centre is to rehabilitate the injured creatures and then release them back in the wild. Only in extreme cases is an animal kept at the Aquarium and they, in turn, become a valuable tool for researchers who are always trying to better understand them.
For example Tag, the beloved Stellar sea lion who lived in the Aquarium for 15 years after being rescued at the age of 2 weeks, participated in many studies over his lifetime so researchers could try and explore some of the theories that have been proposed to explain the decline of the Stellar sea lion population. He also provided Dr. Martin Haulena with the opportunity to learn how to administer the right amount of anasthetic when treating sea lions. This in turn has led to ground breaking on-site rescue techniques that allow for the removal of fishing lines and other entanglements on sea lions by being able to administer the right amount of drug to the animal while it is hauled out on log booms or rocks and not have it drown.
|Dr. Haulena and Vancouver Aquarium rescue team with an injured sea lion in Barkley Sound|
|Treating another injured sea lion in Fanny Bay|
Each year there is a new naming convention for the seals brought into the Rescue Centre, one year it was types of candy, another celestial objects, and for 2014 it's the table of the elements. Giving each one a name helps personalize things and illustrate that every animal is unique and deserving of our love and attention. As heart-breaking as some of the rescue stories are it's even more heart-warming to witness the success stories the Rescue Centre can point to. On their website they have an amazing blog filled with videos and photos documenting their ongoing efforts.
|Wally at peace|
For more information and to donate, please check out the following link;
|Manager Lindsaye Akhurst in front of the big tank|