Garbage, including packing straps, nets, ropes and wires that humans do not properly dispose of continue to injure and kill marine mammals living along our coast.
Curious animals like sea lions frequently become entangled in discarded debris. It is estimated that over 400 sea lions are affected along the BC coast. Our Marine Mammal Rescue team has pioneered a way to disentangle these animals.
Over the past two decades, staff veterinarian Martin Dr. Haulena has helped develop a precise drug combination to temporarily sedate a sea lion in the wild so it may be carefully handled. The procedure to remove the entangled gear often takes place in the water, from a boat, with a floating animal. Success depends upon ideal weather and ocean conditions, requires specialized equipment, a team of expert staff, and boat support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Each disentanglement operation costs $2,500 – for staff costs, medication and equipment and transportation costs. The team has now saved close to twenty sea lions from entanglement.
Each disentanglement requires not only money, but time, supplies and a great deal of coordination. B.C. residents can help by picking up litter and debris from shorelines, to prevent it from getting in the aquatic ecosystem in the first place. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is the country’s largest direct action conservation initiative, organized by Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada, and presented by Loblaw Companies Limited. Participants can register to clean a shoreline in their community at any time of the year.
It’s important to note that sea lions are large, wild animals and rescues should not be attempted by the public. If you see a marine mammal in distress, call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604 258 SEAL (7325).