Steller Sea Lions are known as the king of their species. While they might be known as the kings, Steller Sea Lions populations are endangered or depleting depending on their location. There are many contributing factors to their decline, but one reason is the human debris that is being left in the water and entangling them.
One female Steller Sea Lion was saved from an entanglement by a team from the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Center.
The Steller Sea Lion had nylon rope that was wrapped around its neck.
The Steller Sea Lion was found in Fanny Bay in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The sea lion was resting with many other Steller Sea Lions on a small rock island. The team shot a tranquilizer to sedate the sea lion. As their boat went closer to the rock island, all the sea lions started to hurriedly get back into the water and away.
Since the sea lion was sedated, the team was able to locate her in the water. The well-trained team was able to complete the entire rescue with her in the water.
The head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, Dr. Martin Haulena, stated that it was a “…very severe injury. That rope had cut in right through the blubber layer, right into the muscle, and was certainly going to be eventually the cause of her death if nothing could be done.”
The video is hard to watch at times when the Steller Sea Lion’s injury is up close. She was severely hurt from the rope and the effects of her injury are completely visible. This poor girl must have been horribly suffering. Thankfully, there are rescue teams in place to help as many Steller Sea Lions and other ocean animals as they can.
Once she is in the rescue team’s grasp, one member starts to unravel the rope. The rope had become so twisted and entwined that it took a few moments for the rescuer to figure out how it was wrapped around her neck. He made sure to keep the sea lion calm by talking to her as he was trying figure out how to get the rope out.
Once the rope is completely untied from her neck, they still have one more task before they let her go.
The team injects the sea lion with a combination of reversals, which will reverse the sedative they had put in the sea lion from the very beginning. Once that is completed the team lets her go back to the sea on her own. They make sure to watch her swim away and see how she is holding up.
As she swims away the team sees her eyes open wide and they say,
“There are your live eyes. She’s, oh yeah, now she’s looking like a real sea lion.”
This amazing team saved that beautiful Steller Sea Lion’s life. Following this rescue, the team tried to save another sea lion that was entangled with a plastic packing strip. The team was unsuccessful because the sea lion got away before they could sedate it.
“We know there are hundreds of animals entangled in trash and plastic on our coast, and unfortunately we just can’t get to all of them,” Dr. Haulena stated.
The problem might be overwhelming but many, including the team from Vancouver Aquarium, are not going to just give up.
“We can get out there and do something…a really big reason why I became a vet in the first place… to look at an animal that’s going to pass because of human activity that’s going to pass a very long, painful, or pass in a long, painful kind of way, suffering, and to be able to do something about that is an absolutely amazing thing to do,” Dr. Haulena explains.
Watch the amazing rescue below.
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