Sea Lions Cut Free from Garbage

The Vancouver Aquarium’s veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, aims his gun at a California sea lion. But instead of bullets, it’s loaded with tranquilizer darts.

Dr. Haulena, along with the Aquarium’s veterinary team and marine mammal consulting biologist Wendy Szaniszlo, spent a day on the west coast of Vancouver Island (Barkley-Clayoquot region) in October 2013, looking for entangled sea lions. On this day, they saw nine entangled sea lions. They were able to disentangle two California sea lions after safely sedating them and cutting the plastic fish-packing straps they had around their necks.

This mission was done in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, Brian Gisborne of Juan de Fuca Express and the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

In 2011, the Aquarium rescued “Flash,” a California sea lion that had ingested four feet of fishing equipment. After his rehabilitation at the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, Flash was successfully released back to his home waters. The Rescue Centre is currently caring for a rescued sea otter suffering from gunshot wounds.

Learn more about the Rescue Centre: