Rescued seal pup now in care of Vancouver Aquarium

Emily Vance / January 30, 2019

Northern Fur Seals aren’t officially considered Species At Risk, but the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists them as threatened.
(Sheldon Holloway)

It was a pretty normal Tuesday for Sheldon Holloway when he saw something in the ocean that seemed out of place.

Holloway, who works for an Aquaculture Facility on Hardwicke Island, said he noticed an animal that he couldn’t identify, thrashing and rolling around in the ocean.  Holloway called his coworker, Keith, and he was able to use a piece of equipment to zero in on the animal.

Holloway said that he didn’t know which species it was – that it looked like a cross between an otter and a seal.  Regardless, the animal’s distress was clear.

He was doing circles, [s]he was kind of looking at me like [s]he was kind of scared. At the same time, [s]he couldn’t maneuver properly in the ocean. [S]he was just barrel rolling and thrashing. I could tell [s]he was malnourished, it was small. I knew [s]he needed help. – Sheldon Holloway

Keith had a connection at the Vancouver Aquarium, so they called and were able to identify the animal as a northern fur seal. The two made sure the tiny fur seal was safe, in a tote, and the Aquarium arranged for it to be picked up in Campbell River. From there, the pup was flown to Vancouver, and is now in the care of the Aquarium.

In a release published Tuesday, the Aquarium says that the pup (now named Mo after the Mowi salmon farm where she was discovered), is under intense observation and is being treated with subcutaneous fluids, gastric protectants, and antibiotics.

She’s a 2018 pup, but very small for her age. She’s dehydrated and severely underweight, which indicates she is failing to thrive after being weaned, but she’s feisty, which is a hopeful sign. – Emily Johnson, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

Holloway says that the Aquarium will be keeping him and his daughter posted. He says his daughter is excited and the two are following the story closely.

Seeing the seal in distress, and being able to help it, it was a really good feeling. It was a sense of accomplishment for me. It was malnourished, and I knew it was sick, so I knew that I did the right thing, knowing that the species and the existence of these … was limited. It was a good feeling. I felt really good. – Sheldon Holloway

Holloway says that personally, he’s hoping for a happy ending for Mo.

With files from Sean Holden.

Aquarium staff have cared for a northern seal pup before, when they rescued, rehabilitated, and released a male pup in 2017.
(@vanaqua / Twitter)