Distressed sea lion saved from B.C.’s Salt Spring Island

California sea lion

A California sea lion that was in serious trouble is now being treated at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The aquarium received several reports over the weekend saying that a sea lion on Salt Spring Island was in distress. Nearby residents noticed the seal was extremely lethargic and knew something was wrong when he hadn’t moved in days.

Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, told CBC News that they received photos indicating the sea lion was in “very poor condition.” He had lost a ton of weight and was so thin that his ribs were visible.

Along with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Spring Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre, Haulena helped bring the sea lion to Vancouver. Unfortunately, the care they’re able to provide at the aquarium might not be enough.

“We’re in a tricky position,” Haulena told CBC. “The animal is in such poor condition that now is not the time to perform potentially stressful medical procedures, but without that diagnostic information, you can’t target your treatment.”

Photo by Vancouver Aquarium

According to reports, it’s not yet clear why the sea lion was in distress, and his condition is too uncertain to say whether or not he’ll survive.

Although it’s well known that diseases such as domoic acid toxicity, leptospirosis, and cryptococcosis affect local sea lions, Haulena says “we have a relatively poor understanding of the threats that pinnipeds face in British Columbia compared to, for example, California.”

What Haulena does know, is that they need to help the sea lion the best they can.

“People care about this animal,” he said. “They want to find out what is wrong with him, and they want to help him or at least limit his suffering.”