Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Emergency personnel and bystanders joined with Marine Mammal Rescue Centre staff to try to save a stricken steller sea lion found on a beach in north Nanaimo.

The animal was discovered Thursday at about 11 a.m. by a man walking his dog on Invermere Beach, located at the bottom of a steep, high bluff at the end of Invermere Road.

“He came upon a sea lion. He actually almost tripped over him because he didn’t realize he was there,” said Emily Johnson, assistant manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, based in Vancouver. “He did the right thing and gave us a call.”

Johnson said the man took pictures of the animal and sent them to the centre so staff could identify the species and get some idea of the animal’s behaviour and condition. Upon determining the sea lion needed help, the centre applied for permission from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean to put a response team together to collect the animal and caught a ferry for Nanaimo. The team arrived at the site at about 6 p.m.

“He was definitely not exhibiting any sort of normal behaviour, so we opted to sedate him and sling him and carry him up to the road,” Johnson said. “It was quite an undertaking.”

Access to Invermere Beach is via a set of more than 300 stairs, but the team opted to carry the sea lion – which Johnson estimated weighed between 300 and 350 kilograms – up a trail that runs alongside the stairs, with some help from people in the community.

“It was one of those things where everything sort of came together,” she said. “The community really rallied. Weirdly enough, my husband has a friend [who works for] the City of Nanaimo and there’s a friend who’s an RCMP officer … so we had some muscle to help us get all the way up the road, but … we did it. It was a huge undertaking, for sure. It was definitely the most physical rescue I’ve ever been a part of.”

Johnson said the sea lion was actually underweight. In spite of the Herculean efforts to save the animal, it died not long after it was placed in the transport carrier.

“Sadly, not the outcome we were looking for … but with every response that we go on our team always learns something,” she said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-memorable animal stories of 2020

READ ALSO: Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-memorable animal stories of 2019

The sea lion’s body was driven to a pathology lab on the Lower Mainland where a necropsy will be conducted to try to determine the cause of death.

Johnson said there have been more frequent incidents of sea lions having been killed with firearms, but a radiograph conducted Thursday night didn’t reveal any projectiles or foreign bodies in the carcass.

“The strange thing about it is there were no obvious wounds and no injuries that we could see…” she said. “Honestly, I really couldn’t even have a guess for you.”

Johnson said she was impressed with the efforts people in Nanaimo put in to help save the animal.

“What a great little community, though. I could tell everybody was very invested in helping,” she said.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AnimalsEnvironmentWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Esquimalt High School is one of six Greater Victoria schools that reported a COVID-19 exposure over the weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Six new Greater Victoria school exposures reported over weekend

Steady rise in school exposures since return from spring break

Passengers in rows four to 10 onboard WestJet flight 449 from Calgary to Victoria April 6 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flight from Calgary to Victoria added to COVID-19 exposure list

Passengers onboard WestJet flight 449 April 6 affected

Paramedic Matthew Schlatter of Victoria is living a fuller life today due to the double lung transplant he received in 2019. He encourages B.C. residents to register as an organ donor and let their families know their wishes. (Instagram/Matthew Schlatter)
Victoria man living a full, active life after double lung transplant

Matt Schlatter encourages people to register as an organ donor to help others live

Victoria Police’s Explosive Disposal Unit came to Oak Bay April 10 to destroy a potentially dangrous explosive device that washed up on shore. (Oak Bay RCMP photo)
Washed-up explosive device destroyed by VicPD bomb squad

An Oak Bay resident called in the potentially dangerous debris

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read