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

Just Posted

One of B.C.’s newest citizens reflects on the value of immigration

“People who come by choice to another country will do everything to contribute to that country.”

Princeton man charged in thefts from volunteer fire hall

A Princeton man appeared in circuit court here February 14, facing charges… Continue reading

Coach promises tonight’s Posse match will be the game of the year

Princeton Posse coach Mark McNaughton wants to see a full house tonight… Continue reading

Piles of debris hauled from Summerland rock slide site

Material removed from site would more than fill an Olympic swimming pool

Athletes hit the slopes for the final day of SOBC

The awards ceremony for all alpine skiing events took place this afternoon at the SilverStar Village Podium.

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Team BC sitting 4th at Canada Winter Games after 1st week

Team BC ringette featuring Kelowna’s Brooklyn Keller finished 4th

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Most Read