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2017 an "epic" rescue season for Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

The non-profit Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre rescued and rehabilitated over 200 marine mammals this year.

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is calling 2017 "epic."

That's because they were never busier than in this year, rescuing 202 harbour seals--mostly pups--along with a fur seal, three sea lions, and several other animals.

Because 2017 was a special year for Canada, too--our 150th birthday--the MMRC named their rescues after Canadian cities and towns.

 8 rescued and rehabilitated seal pups were released into Howe Sound on December 14, 2017 (Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)8 rescued and rehabilitated seal pups were released into Howe Sound on December 14, 2017 (Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

In January, they rescued "an emaciated and out-of-its-range northern fur seal pup" they named Flores, the first fur seal rescued by the MMRC in two decades, according to the non-profit. Flores went back into the waters this June.

The MMRC provided these 2017 rescue highlights:

  • The team rescued Senor Cinco, an adult California sea lion from Spanish Banks beach on May 5. He had been shot twice in the face and is now blind.
  • They rescued Bella Bella, a female Steller sea lion pup, from remote McInnes Island off British Columbia's central coast on June 1. She is still in care.
  • Hardy, a male sea otter pup, found swimming alone in open water off northern Vancouver Island in June, and now being cared for at the Vancouver Aquarium.
  • Campbell, a young adult male California sea lion, rescued from a beach near Campbell River in October, and now healthy, is slated for release this week. This is the first time the centre has had three sea lions on site at once.

During the course of the year, the team also helped free several sea lions who were tangled in marine debris.

 8 rescued and rehabilitated seal pups were released into Howe Sound on December 14, 2017 (Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)8 rescued and rehabilitated seal pups were released into Howe Sound on December 14, 2017 (Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

The first seal pup the MMRC rescued this year was brought in May 28 in Glendale Cove; they named the seal pup Princeton.

As a wonderful way to bring 2017 to a close, Thursday morning the MMRC released eight rehabilitated seal pups back into the waters at Porteau Cove Provincial Park in Howe Sound.

It may have been an epic year in terms of the number of animals, but the MMRC points out that it took over 18,000 volunteer hours to care for their rescues.

 8 rescued and rehabilitated seal pups were released into Howe Sound on December 14, 2017 (Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)8 rescued and rehabilitated seal pups were released into Howe Sound on December 14, 2017 (Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

Better still, the MMRC reports they have achieved "a record-high survival rate, with more than 80 per cent of the animals admitted being rehabilitated."