Three months ago, an adorable fuzzy seal pup named Timbit captured hearts as the first seal pup was admitted to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMR) in 2022.
There was so much national attention that Tim Hortons actually sponsored the pup's care (this year the MMR is naming all the pups after sweet treats).
Today, Sept. 8, MMR announced the rehabilitation team released the harbour seal back into the wild.
The MMR explains that "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" in a media release.
Timbit was rescued from Blackie Spit in South Surrey by Surrey RCMP following a call from a concerned member of the public. He was tube-fed five times a day, given supplementary fluid therapy upon arrival, and required specialized care.
Once Timbit reached his goal weight and demonstrated he was confident eating fish on his own and that he could compete for food with other harbour seals the MMR team gave him one final health examination, including blood work, and determined he was ready for release.
The rescue centre is Canada’s only dedicated marine mammal rescue facility and is one of the largest in the world.
Each year the facility rescues around 150 animals, with on-site rehabilitation for sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles and porpoises; 80 per cent return to their natural habitats. It also works to respond to off-site marine mammal emergencies including disentangling sea lions from nets 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 in the release, adding that there has been an alarming number of animals admitted to MMR due to human interaction and interference in recent years.
“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,” she says.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada incident reporting hotline is 1-800-465-4336 and MMR can be reached at 1-604-258-SEAL (7325) for seal pups.
With files from Brendan Kergin