Vancouver Aquarium Takes in Tiny Sea Otter Pup!
A tiny male sea otter pup — estimated to be just two to four weeks old — is now in 24-hour care at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, after concerned members of the public found it swimming alone in open water off northern Vancouver Island on Sunday. Although the pup appears healthy, he requires care night and day from the Rescue Centre team, just as he would from his mother. Staff and volunteers are spending shifts feeding, bathing and grooming the newborn pup, which has not yet been named.
“Sea otters have high energetic needs; after birth they spend about six months with mom, nursing, being groomed by her and learning to forage and be a sea otter, so this little guy is still a fully dependent pup. He would not survive on his own, and we’re providing him with the care he needs right now,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which is presented by Port Metro Vancouver.
According to the report provided to the Rescue Centre, boaters collected the sea otter pup after it approached and then followed their boat while vocalizing. There were no adult sea otters in sight. Once in Port Hardy, officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) arranged for the transfer to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Although well intentioned, both DFO officials and Rescue Centre personnel say the distressed animal should have been reported first rather than taken from the ocean. “Once they’re removed from the wild it’s impossible to determine if the mother is alive and if they could have been reunited, or if bringing him in was the appropriate action,” said Akhurst.
Moral of the story? Vancouver Aquarium and others like it are full of wonderful, caring people who do great work - and, if you come across otters who look abandoned or in trouble, please contact local wildlife authorities before intervening.