A struggling seal pup who was rescued just days ago near Glendale Cove on B.C.’s central coast and saved from certain death is now recovering at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
And he’s had a royal christening, according to program manager Lindsaye Akhurst.
Centre staff named the pup – the first one to be rescued this year – Princeton, recognizing the small mining and forestry community in the province’s interior.
As part of its Canada 150 celebrations, the centre is naming all seal pups recovered this season after Canadian towns and cities.
Princeton weighed just 7.3 kilograms when he was taken into care last Sunday, said Akhurst. He was dehydrated, covered in a soft fur indicating a premature birth, and his umbilical cord was still attached.
Seal pups are born on land and it is likely Princeton’s mother left him to forage for food and for whatever reason failed to return, she said.
“We jumped into action…He would have died without our intervention.”
Princeton was rescued after staff at the Knight Inlet Lodge observed him in isolation for several days.
“For the first 48 hours stabilization was key for him,” said Ankhurst.
Princeton was flown on a charter flight to Campbell River, and then Pacific Coastal Airlines picked up the tab to get him safely to Vancouver.
“We’ve been giving him fluids and tube feeding him formula. His hydration level is up and his energy level is up, just in the last couple of days.”
After Princeton puts on some weight and is fully recovered he will go to “fish school” at the centre, the first step in preparing him to be reintroduced to the wild.
“Once we get them eating fish on their own they go into a larger pool and we supply them with a good amount of fish to fatten them up. There are minimal hands-on at that point.”
Princeton will likely be released in the Campbell River area. “We generally pick an area where we know there is a seal population but also an area where there is not much boat traffic.”
Akhurst said the seal pup name program, initiated to help the public engage with rescued animals, has no formal protocols.
A staff member suggested the name Princeton and a vote determined it was the moniker best suited to the centre’s newest baby.
A second seal pup recently rescued in Vancouver was named for Georgina, Ont.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre saves, rehabilitates and releases about 150 animals every year. Most of the patients are seal pups although the centre also assists sea otters, sea lions, whales, dolphins and porpoises.
The cost of rescuing and successfully returning a seal pup to the wild is approximately $2,000, said Ankhurst.
If you wish to support Princeton’s care and the centre’s ongoing work, visit support.vanaqua.org/seals.
The adopt-a-seal-pup program allows you to enter Princeton’s name and make a donation.