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

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Okanagan competitors to be featured in arm wrestling documentary

Arm Nation, featuring competitions from Kelowna and Penticton, will air on Oct. 20 on APTN

Former Vernon man guilty of Japanese exchange student’s murder

Natsumi Kogawa was found at empty heritage mansion shortly after she was reported missing in 2016

Hundreds vote in advance polls in Summerland

General voting in municipal election scheduled for Oct. 20, 8 a.m.t o 8 p.m.

Contenders to return for Okanagan tour

Valdy, Gary Fjellgaard and Blu and Kelly Hopkins will perform at six venues

Cough cough: Kelowna MLA gets flu shot to prep for the cold season

Steve Thomson got his flu shot from Lakeside Medicine Centre Friday

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

Who is running in Summerland’s election?

Introducing you to the candidates asking for your vote on Oct. 20

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Black trucks figure prominently in Shuswap thefts

Chase RCMP investigating stolen vehicles from several communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

Most Read