September 08, 2022 — Vancouver, B.C. - The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMR) was pleased that after three months of rehabilitation the team was able to release harbour seal Timbit. Timbit was the first pup of the 2022 season and found at Blackie Spit in South Surrey. He was initially attended to by Surrey RCMP following a call from a concerned member of the public.
The rehabilitation process for rescued animals, such as Timbit, can take weeks or even months depending on the health status and treatment plan, weight gain and ability to forage for fish. Prior to his release, Timbit demonstrated that he was confident eating fish on his own and that he could compete for food with other harbour seals. Once he reached his release weight, he had a health examination including blood work and was given a clean bill of health by veterinary staff for release. Timbit’s story gained national attention in Canada, including Tim Hortons who sponsored his care at MMR.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is Canada’s only dedicated marine mammal rescue facility and one of the largest in the world. The Centre has rescued and rehabilitated marine mammals for over 60 years.
The facility allows for on-site rehabilitation of seals, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles and small cetaceans, such as harbour porpoises. The Centre also responds to off-site marine mammal emergencies including disentangling sea lions along the coast.
“This summer has been a busy one with nearly 70 animals still on site,” said Marine Mammal Rescue Centre Manager Lindsaye Akhurst. She points out that in recent years there has been an alarming number of animals that have been admitted to MMR due to human interaction and interference.
“It is important to remember that it is normal to see marine mammals inhabiting our local waters, and while they may look approachable, they are wild animals, and we need to respect that. The best thing you can do if you are observing a marine mammal, you suspect needs assistance is to keep people and pets back and to call MMR or DFO,” said Akhurst.
Members of the public are encouraged to call the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada incident reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336 for any other marine mammal incidences or MMR at 604. 258.SEAL(7325) for seal pups.
“With more than 100 animals being responded to this year, it underscores the importance of the work the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre does. ” said Vancouver Aquarium Executive Director Clint Wright.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is a hospital for sick, injured, or orphaned marine mammals. The Rescue Centre rescues stranded marine mammals and rehabilitated them for release back into their natural habitat. www.mmrpatients.org