Harbour seal found on Vancouver beach with 23 shotgun pellets in face

The seal was seriously injured by birdshot, now in treatment at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

A young harbour seal found suffering from a gunshot wound to the face may lose complete eyesight in one of her eyes, according to veterinarians at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

The pup, who is believed to be less than one year old, was found on Feb. 18 on Kitsilano beach in Vancouver. Officials at the centre said she was emaciated and lethargic, with 23 birdshot pellets embedded in her face. It’s believed she was shot weeks prior to being found.

Dr. Martin Haulena, the aquarium’s head veterinarian, said in a news release Tuesday the seal, who has been named Jessica Seal, is the fifth animal to be found badly injured by gunfire in recent years.

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

READ MORE: Sea lion shot in face one year ago to live at Vancouver Aquarium

Last month, aquarium veterinarians travelled to Washington State to perform surgery on a pregnant seal shot in the head during a fishing derby.

On Friday, veterinary specialists took a thorough look at Jessica Seal’s injuries to determine how much vision she has left and to remove some of her damaged teeth. Birdshot pellets, usually used in shotguns, are made of either steel or lead inside a shell and scatter outwards when shot.

“We have no way of knowing who did this,” said Haulena. “I can tell you that she’s been suffering for several weeks, and we don’t know if she’s going to recover her eyesight enough to be released.”

Haulena said he’s concerned these types of injuries may become more common if a campaign by fishers to cull seals and sea lions gains ground. The Richmond-based Pacific Balance Pinniped Society has been pressing Fisheries and Oceans Canada to consider a managed Indigenous fishery for seals and sea lions.

READ MORE: West coast group campaigns for seal, sea lion harvest

WATCH: Giving the gifts of whale snot, prosthetic eyes and formula

“The person who did this would have known they wouldn’t kill her with birdshot. It was intended to hurt her, and it did,” Haulena said.

“The conflict on the water between humans and seals is not new — they want some of the same fish. I do worry people now feel more comfortable taking aim because they’ve been hearing seals are the bad guys, and they’re not.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UFV launches school of creative arts

New school combines theatre and visual arts

Pints n’ Pitches coming to Abbotsford

Free Oct. 16 event brings together people to foster potential business ventures

Local youth theatre presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Show runs Oct. 17 and Oct. 21-24 at Mission’s Clarke Theatre

Candidate Questions: Brad Vis – Conservative

Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon Riding

Candidate Questions: Jati Sidhu – Liberal

Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon Riding

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Vancouver Giants wrap up prairie road swing with a 4-2 win over Regina

Milos Roman paced the Langley-based Giants with two goals, goaltender David Tendeck made 34 saves

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

Man arrested in fatal stabbing at Surrey gas station

Victim pronounced deceased at the scene; RCMP cordon off area

Most Read