An injured seal pup rescued from Oak Bay’s Willows Beach last weekend is responding well to treatment but still receiving intensive care.
The seal, dubbed Kylie Minnow, was flown in to Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Monday morning, after she was saved from the beach Sunday night. She was significantly underweight and her left eye was injured, according to the centre’s manager, Lindsaye Akhurst.
“We put her on some medication and she’s responding really well to the treatments for that eye. She’s bright and alert. She’s being tube fed five times a day right now,” Akhurst said Friday.
The seal was unable to open her left eye, was suffering from a few small abrasions, and weighed only about 6.5 kilograms. A healthy seal pup should weigh around 10 kilograms at birth, said Akhurst, who estimated the pup was about a day or two old when she was rescued.
She remains in intensive care, because she is so small.
A volunteer with the BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre saved Kylie Minnow from the beach after a resident made the call to Wild ARC.
The seal was separated from her mother.
A lone seal pup on the beach is not always a sign of a needed rescue — the seal’s mom may be out foraging for food, for example — but, in this case, the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which was in touch with rescuers on Willows Beach, felt the pup needed to be saved.
“The pup had been there for an extended period of time and did need rescuing, had the injury to the eye — so obviously something was going on — and because she was so small, we felt we needed to act pretty fast to bring her in to the centre to start the rehabilitation process,” Akhurst said.
The pup’s full recovery is not a guarantee.
“It’s hard to say,” Akhurst said. The rehabilitation process can take several months.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre admits between 120 to 200 harbour seal pups each year, according to Akhurst.
The first step in the centre’s rehabilitation process is helping the rescued seals rehydrate and gain weight. If successful, rescuers then work to wean the seals off formula food and start to teach them how to catch fish. The seals may then be released if they reach a healthy weight and pass a physical exam.
Akhurst advised anyone who sees a lone seal pup on a beach to call the rescue centre.