Coated in something soft and white and undoubtedly sweet, Timbit the seal pup has a lot in common with the iconic snack.
He's the newest patient at the Vancouver Aquarium (more like Aww-quarium with this little guy) Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMR) and the first harbour seal pup of the 2022 season. Found at Surrey's Blackie Spit, the RCMP were called at first, but the MMR team followed and were able to confirm the young seal was in trouble and needed help.
"He has been tube fed five times a day and given supplementary fluid therapy since arriving," describes the MMR in a press release. "Because of human interference or separation from their mothers, these seal pups require the care of the specialized staff at MMR. The centre’s goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release these animals back to the wild."
An early-season pup, Timbit is covered in a white fur coat called lanugo.
Timbit is the first pup of the season to be brought to the MMR, and will be followed by some other sweet sounding seals; that's because the MMR has decided all 2022 pups will be named after "sweet treats."
The MMR is reminding folks that, as the harbour seal pupping season begins, seals should be left alone. There's been an "alarming number" of animals brought in due to human interference, they add.
“This is an exciting time of year to see marine mammals in the wild. However, we want to remind the public not to disturb them,” says MMR manager Lindsaye Akhurst.
Just because a seal pup is spotted on its own, doesn't mean it needs help.
“It is important to remember that it is normal for harbour seal moms to leave their pups on the beach to rest while they forage elsewhere. The best thing you can do if you are observing a seal pup you suspect needs assistance is to keep people and pets back and to call MMR," says Akhurst.
The MMR can be called at 1-604-258-7325 (SEAL). The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada can also help; their number is 1-800-465-4336.
For Timbit, the odds look good he'll be able to return to the wild; each year the centre rescues around 150 animals (including sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles and porpoises) and 80 per cent return to their natural habitats.