A south Island seal is recuperating in care after being plucked from Cattle Point in Oak Bay and shuttled to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on the Lower Mainland.
At just shy of eight kilograms, the baby named Bertha Island is being fed a milk formula that mimics the milk she would receive from her mother, according to the rescue organization. The formula is high in fat and promotes weight gain before she is eventually weaned onto fish.
Currently in quarantine that is home for all new arrivals, Bertha was taken in for “maternal separation” – a common theme for young seals in care.
Starting as early as June, and peaking in July or August, beaches become seal nurseries, and a pup found alone isn’t always in trouble, says the BC SPCA.
While young, a pup spends 30 to 40 per cent of its time on land, often while mom is off eating. A healthy seal pup should appear round and plump, but those that look skinny or with visible skin folds likely need help.
Either way, it’s important to keep pets and children away from wildlife on the beach, the BC SPCA said. Staying too close to the pup could discourage the adult from returning.
To get professional help, and report a potentially injured or abandoned seal, call the Marine Mammal Rescue at 604-258-7325 or the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre at 250-537-0777. To report a marine mammal disturbance or harassment call the Fisheries and Oceans Canada observe, report, record line at 1-800-465-4336. The BC SPCA Animal Helpline offers advise assessing whether a wild animal needs help at 1-855-622-7722.