A sick adult male steller sea lion rests after being captured by rescue crews to be transported to the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre for treatment. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Sea lion suffering from gunshot to the head rescued off B.C. coast

“It does look like there’s some pretty serious metal density in his skull.”

A distressed adult male Steller sea lion that was rescued off a Ucluelet beach and transported to the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Thursday night is believed to have suffered at least one gunshot to the head.

“It does look like there’s some pretty serious metal density in his skull, so I have to assume they’re some kind of bullet or pellet, fairly large gauge,” the centre’s head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena told the Westerly News on Friday. “I don’t know whether it’s one really large bullet that fragmented into two major pieces, but it certainly looks pretty serious.”

He said the centre’s staff will try to stabilize the sea lion over the weekend with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain it is in before taking a closer look at its injuries next week, but added that the animal’s chances of survival do not look promising.

“He’s very lethargic, very weak, he’s been allowing people to come up to him so I have to assume that there’s some pretty serious degree of head trauma,” he said. “Unfortunately, with a big sea lion like that, if he’s letting people approach, it’s usually something pretty serious.”

He added the sea lion may have been blinded.

“Right now, he’s got one eye tightly shut, the other eye’s pupil is dilated and doesn’t appear to be visual at all. He might be a blind sea lion, which is obviously a problem for release,” he said. “We really need to evaluate that other eye and then really see what the degree of injury is from the bullets; where they are, what they’ve hurt, what they’ve damaged and evaluate his quality of life as well as whether he can be releasable or not…I’m a bit worried about him for sure.”

The sea lion was reported to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada on Wednesday and a rescue team assembled in Ucluelet to capture it and transport it to the rescue centre Thursday night.

Collecting the sea lion was a tough task as it had beached itself high up a rocky shoreline near Ucluelet’s fuel dock. The rescue team tranquilized the animal and were assisted by local volunteers to carry it to the edge of a cement wall adjacent to the beach where a Windsor Plywood truck and crane then lifted the sea lion onto a transport vehicle to be taken to the rescue centre.

Anyone who spots a marine mammal in distress should never approach the animal, but should instead immediately contact DFO at 1-800-465-4336 or the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-7325.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: VIDEO: Entangled sea lion rescued near Ucluelet

READ MORE: Sea turtle rescued near Ucluelet heads home

READ MORE: Spikes that put sea lions at risk in Ucluelet still being investigated

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

Seabridge Gold starts drilling along proposed tunnel route north of Stewart

Twin tunnels will connect the KSM mine to its mill and tailings site

Mother grizzly bear with two cubs spotted on Gruchy’s Beach trail near Terrace

Conservation officers also warning public to stay away from Grizzlies on lower Kitimat River

Terrace conservation officers relocate Spirit bear

Bear roamed Kitsumkalum Valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

RCMP confirm homicide investigation underway near Quesnel

Police releasing few details four days after homicide occurred Monday, July 6

Most Read