Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Emergency personnel and bystanders joined with Marine Mammal Rescue Centre staff to try to save a stricken steller sea lion found on a beach in north Nanaimo.

The animal was discovered Thursday at about 11 a.m. by a man walking his dog on Invermere Beach, located at the bottom of a steep, high bluff at the end of Invermere Road.

“He came upon a sea lion. He actually almost tripped over him because he didn’t realize he was there,” said Emily Johnson, assistant manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, based in Vancouver. “He did the right thing and gave us a call.”

Johnson said the man took pictures of the animal and sent them to the centre so staff could identify the species and get some idea of the animal’s behaviour and condition. Upon determining the sea lion needed help, the centre applied for permission from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean to put a response team together to collect the animal and caught a ferry for Nanaimo. The team arrived at the site at about 6 p.m.

“He was definitely not exhibiting any sort of normal behaviour, so we opted to sedate him and sling him and carry him up to the road,” Johnson said. “It was quite an undertaking.”

Access to Invermere Beach is via a set of more than 300 stairs, but the team opted to carry the sea lion – which Johnson estimated weighed between 300 and 350 kilograms – up a trail that runs alongside the stairs, with some help from people in the community.

“It was one of those things where everything sort of came together,” she said. “The community really rallied. Weirdly enough, my husband has a friend [who works for] the City of Nanaimo and there’s a friend who’s an RCMP officer … so we had some muscle to help us get all the way up the road, but … we did it. It was a huge undertaking, for sure. It was definitely the most physical rescue I’ve ever been a part of.”

Johnson said the sea lion was actually underweight. In spite of the Herculean efforts to save the animal, it died not long after it was placed in the transport carrier.

“Sadly, not the outcome we were looking for … but with every response that we go on our team always learns something,” she said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-memorable animal stories of 2020

READ ALSO: Nanaimo News Bulletin’s top 10 most-memorable animal stories of 2019

The sea lion’s body was driven to a pathology lab on the Lower Mainland where a necropsy will be conducted to try to determine the cause of death.

Johnson said there have been more frequent incidents of sea lions having been killed with firearms, but a radiograph conducted Thursday night didn’t reveal any projectiles or foreign bodies in the carcass.

“The strange thing about it is there were no obvious wounds and no injuries that we could see…” she said. “Honestly, I really couldn’t even have a guess for you.”

Johnson said she was impressed with the efforts people in Nanaimo put in to help save the animal.

“What a great little community, though. I could tell everybody was very invested in helping,” she said.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AnimalsEnvironmentWildlife

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

Just Posted

Spray paint was discovered at Hot Rocks. (Special to The News)
Popular Maple Ridge summer destination vandalized

Rocks discovered with spray paint along South Alouette

Police shut down 240 Street after a single vehicle accident. (The News files)
Maple Ridge man dies following crash

Police believe he went into medical distress before accident

An early morning fire forced the evacuation of a Maple Ridge apartment building on Saturday, April 3 (Deborah Hampton/Special to The News)
City of Maple Ridge thanks volunteers for response to Easter weekend blaze

Emergency Support Services volunteers stepped up to help displaced residents

A partial image from the painting Kanaka Creek by Eric Hotz, which in the exhibit at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
A Study of Nature exhibition opens at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

Eric Hotz paintings feature familiar scenes from across the Lower Mainland

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

Most Read