‘Ukee’, a sea lion that was shot in Ucluelet, was euthanized at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Thursday. (Photo - Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)

Sea lion found shot off Vancouver Island dies at Vancouver Aquarium

“He wasn’t responding to treatment, and his condition had taken a significant downturn.”

A sea lion that was shot in Ucluelet died yesterday at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

The adult male Steller, named ‘Ukee’ by the centre’s staff, was discovered in Ucluelet on Oct. 10 and transported to the centre on Oct. 11. After roughly two weeks of treatment, the veterinary team made the difficult decision to euthanize the animal, according to a post on the centre’s Facebook page Friday afternoon.

READ MORE: Sea lion rescued in Ucluelet suffering from gunshot wound to the head

“He wasn’t responding to treatment, and his condition had taken a significant downturn in the last two days,” said the aquarium’s head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena. “At this point we had to evaluate his quality of life. Although we are disappointed we couldn’t return him to full health, we are glad we could end his suffering and make his final days more comfortable. I am so proud of the team for the incredible care they gave him.”

‘Ukee’ was severely underweight at around 350 kilograms—healthy male Steller sea lions can reach around 800 kilograms—when he arrived at the centre. Veterinarians found at least one bullet lodged in the animal’s skull and determined he had been blinded.

It is illegal to shoot a sea lion without a permit in Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is investigating.

READ MORE: DFO investigating shooting of sea lion in Ucluelet

West Coast marine mammal researcher Wendy Szaniszlo told the Westerly News she was frustrated by Ukee’s death and said many people believe sea lions compete with fishers.

“Sea lions are unpopular because it is perceived that they eat a lot of fish, specifically commercially targeted fish such as salmon,” she said. “Because of that, they are seen as competition and likely some folks are maybe wanting to take it in their hands to try to limit any kind of fishery-sea lion interactions…I find it very disheartening and frustrating too.”

READ MORE: Nails endangering sea lions on Ucluelet float spark DFO investigation

She added that “there is very little information” around what sea lions specifically prey on and said her own research suggests salmon is only one small part of a sea lion’s diet.

“Salmon is a portion of their diet, but it’s not the biggest part of their diet and certainly not chinook salmon,” she said. “They are feeding on a wide variety of different types of fish as well as octopus and squid, it’s not specifically chinook salmon.”

She added that she was happy to see so many community members come to Ukee’s aide and report the distressed sea lion to the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-7325 and DFO at 1-800-465-4336.

“The Vancouver Aquarium was able to rescue the animal and do what they could to help it and try to save it. It’s just unfortunate it had the outcome that it did,” she said. “To me, it warms my heart that, while there are some people out there that truly dislike sea lions and are willing to cause them harm, there are many people out there that do like them and will do what they can to help rescue and rehabilitate them as well.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Entangled sea lion rescued near Tofino



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Valley of the Springs Winery grand opening event a smashing success

Three of four time slots available during the two-day event completely sold out

New 4.9 hectare fire burning east of Trout Lake

Another out-of-control fire in the Lake Creek area has also grown to 6.6 hectares

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read