Emerald is the Vancouver Aquarium’s first seal pup patient of the season

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Photo Vancouver Aquarium

Emerald is the first seal pup to arrive at the Vancouver Aquarium’s offsite rescue centre.

The tiny premature male pup was admitted to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on May 23 after being found alone on Anvil Island in Howe Sound by a member of the public.

He is named Emerald because it’s the birthstone for the month of May and this year’s naming theme for harbour seal pups is gemstones and minerals.

Emerald weighs 6.8 kilograms, which MMR staff say is very underweight, has the remnants of his umbilical cord still attached and is covered in the soft fur of a premature pup, which is called lanugo.

“This is the start of pupping season along our coast, so at this time of year, you’ll sometimes see newborn pups left to rest while their mothers forage for food. The mother will usually come back,” says Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Rescue Centre.

The pup was observed alone all day on Wednesday with no adult seals in the area before the decision was made to rescue him.

He is now receiving a nutrient-rich formula five times per day and close monitoring by the veterinary team. Akhurst said his condition is still critical. “It’s always a more challenging recovery for premature pups. They miss important early nutrition and support from mom, so they’re not off to a great start.”

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre takes in, rehabilitates, and releases about 150 animals a year. Most are seal pups but the veterinary team has provided medical treatment to elephant seals, sea otters, sea lions, whales, dolphins and porpoises, most of which are successfully released back into the wild.

In 2017, the team rescued over 200 seal pups, three sea lions, a northern fur seal and a sea otter pup.

“We ask those who find a seal pup not to touch it and to keep their pets away. Call us, we’ll assess the animal, then decide if a rescue is needed, ” says Akhurst.

The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre can be reached by calling 604.258.SEAL (7325).