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

Yennadon site could become employment lands

Maple Ridge planners looking at commercial/industrial development

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at Maple Ridge school

Students at James Cameron School reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

Scorpion, first brought to Maple Ridge vet, gives birth after hitching ride in woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought it home from trip to Cuba

Maple Ridge man faces deportation over father’s honour-killing conviction

Father lied to immigration, was later acquitted of charges in Jassi Sidhu’s murder

LETTER: The good and bad at Ridge Meadows Hospital

‘I drove to the hospital and paid $6.50 for parking.’

Scorpion, first brought to Maple Ridge vet, gives birth after hitching ride in woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought it home from trip to Cuba

Victoria area school grapples with death of 13-year-old

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. imposes interim moratorium on resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

B.C. sculptor depicts epic eagle battle in latest piece that took 2,500 hours

Clasped in one of the raptor’s talons is each one’s desire: a living venomous diamondback rattlesnake

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

Air Canada expects Boeing 737 Max to resume flying by September or October

Air Canada isn’t worried about safety of the planes, says vice-president

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Most Read