When a neighbour called her at 10:30 Tuesday morning, March 26 about a stranded male Harbour porpoise in Towner Bay in North Saanich, Marilyn Harris said she had to act to help save its life.
That porpoise is now receiving treatment at the Vancouver Aquarium and is going by the name of Levi.
Harris, who lives on Towner Bay, within the Saanich Inlet, says she phoned a wildlife rescue organization as soon as her neighbour told her about the porpoise’s presence on a reef. She was directed to call the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program, as well as the Vancouver Aquarium.
Cetus Research and Conservation Society was contacted by DFO staff and both organizations sent people to jump into the water and rescue the injured animal.
“It was stranded on a reef out in Towner Bay,” Harris said. “I’m not sure how it ended up there, but it was injured and had been out of the water for some time.”
The DFO’s Annely Greene led a group of rescuers, including Lisa Spaven from DFO Science, veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena and people from the Cetus society, in getting the porpoise off of the reef at around noon that day.
They kept it wet and coordinated the effort with Haulena and staff from the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which would be taking the porpoise to its facility for treatment.
The porpoise was taken aboard a B.C. Ferry in the early evening via a Vancouver Aquarium rescue van and brought to the mainland.
Harris noted that as of Saturday, March 30, the porpoise was alive, but in critical condition. According to the Vancouver Aquarium, the porpoise has a healthy body weight, but is unable to swim on its own due to its injuries and is being supported in a special sling to help keep it afloat. Staff there noted, historically, porpoises have had a poor chance of recovery despite their good record in treating porpoise calves.
“If the porpoise does recover, and demonstrates that he can adequately forage for food, avoid predators, and pose no threat to other marine life, the goal is to eventually release him back into the wild,” stated information on the Aquarium’s web site. To report a dead, injured or distressed marine mammal please call the B.C. Marine Mammal Response Network at 1-800-465-4336.