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)

UPDATED: Sea lion rescued in Ucluelet suffering from gunshot to the head

“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

Ferry service increase to Nanaimo lauded by Gabriola Islanders

Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee to work with B.C. Ferries, says committee chairman

Nanaimo Astronomy Society to host Vancouver Island’s first AstroFest

AstroFest will showcase Island’s amateur and professional astronomical groups and activities

Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards announce winners

VIU women’s volleyball is Team of the Year, Presidents Cup lacrosse is Sports Story of the Year

Nanaimo community policing volunteer recognized for decades of service

Don Willett presented commanding officer’s certificate for 25 years of volunteer service

Vehicle smashes through front of furniture store in Nanaimo

No injuries reported in Friday afternoon incident on Mostar Road

Poutine, sweet treats tantalize taste buds at Maple Sugar Festival in Nanaimo

L’Association des Francophones de Nanaimo hold festival at Beban Park this weekend

Vancouver Island Brewing puts Nanaimo bar on tap

Beer based on signature Nanaimo dessert flying off liquor retailers’ shelves

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

B.C. man creates Indigenous colouring book for children

Leon McFadden is working on 11 more books to finish the horoscope series

City of Nanaimo issues building permit for Gordon Street hotel

Ground-breaking for $21-million project anticipated this spring

High school students converge on Nanaimo for Skills Canada competition

Winners will head to provincial event in Abbotsford later this year

Realtors hope that their help can make miracles happen for sick kids

Re/Max of Nanaimo donates $86,000 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Most Read