A well-meaning person brought this seal pup, now named Shellen Degeneres, to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Staff say people should leave the pups alone and call authorities. (OceanWise)

Leave them alone: Vancouver Aquarium issues warning after several seal pups ‘disturbed’

Rescue centre staff report seeing more seal pups who’ve been handled inappropriately by humans

Staff at the Vancouver Aquarium’s rescue centre have admitted 11 harbour seal pups since the end of June after they’d been “disturbed” by well-meaning humans.

“Once a pup has been removed from its natural environment, it makes it difficult to be reunited with mom, and then we have no choice but to rehabilitate them,” said Emily Johnson, assistant manager at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre in a news release Thursday, noting some of the 11 pups needed saving, while others did not.

“It’s imperative that humans and pets leave them alone. It’s a perfectly natural situation and it does not mean the pups have been deserted or orphaned.”

Would-be Good Samaritans have patted the seals on the head, picked them up and carried them back into the water, and fed them things like oysters, milk and even a chicken drumstick.

READ MORE: Harbour seal found with 23 shotgun pellets in face

People have hung babies upside down by their flippers to take pictures.

One person called centre staff to report an orphaned pup, but then drove it to a vet clinic and dropped it off.

Another woman put a pup in her bathtub before she called officials.

“One man scooped up two newborn seal pups in a couch cushion case, zipped them up, and put them in the backseat of his car next to his dog to drive them over,” the news release said.

VIDEO: Northern fur seal pup rescued near B.C. fish farm

If you see a seal pup on its own, leave it alone, keep yourself and others, including pets, at a safe distance, and call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325) or the Fisheries and Oceans Canada hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

“We want to make sure that every pup reported is indeed separated from its mom because we know that a healthy pup’s best chance of survival is being raised by its mother,” Johnson said.

Ninety-three seals have been admitted to the centre so far this year.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Canadian seniors isolated with fewer friends, less access to internet

Findings appear in assessment of health and social challenges associated with COVID-19

Mustard Seed Coffee Company launches online ordering, free delivery

Program proceeds assist Greater Victoria residents in need

Oak Bay permits recreation vehicles in driveways during COVID-19

Council lifts restriction on campers as a place to self-isolate

Vikes Maffia, Mollenhauer among annual athletic award winners

UVic Vikes release annual athletic awards

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

Most Read