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

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Six boat wrecks wash up on Cadboro Bay beaches over the weekend

Dead Boat Society working with Oak Bay, Saanich to clear derelict boats

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read