Entangled Sea Lion gets rescued at Race Rocks

The rope had his right flipper ensnared, and it was caught on a rock leaving him tethered on the island

On December 13, 2009, Ryan Murphy reported to DFO that a sea lion on Middle Island was entangled in ropes. (See Ryan’s comments below) The ropes were snagged so it could not leave the rock. A rescue was mounted by DFO and the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre of the Vancouver Aquarium on December 16. This was the first time a sea lion had been successfully released from such an entanglement.


entangled sea lion entangled sea lion entangled sea lion
On December 14 he was still there Location of the animal (top of picture) on Middle Island A tangle of ropes had him snared so that he could go in and out of the water but not very far.
DFO releases entangle sea lion
DFO releases entangle sea lion
DFO releases entangle sea lion
The DFO vessel approaches middle island on December 16. They are accompanied by members of the marine Mammal rescue group from the Vancouver Aquarium. Approaching from the north side of the island. A dart is shot into the flank of the animal to immobilize it.
DFO releases entangle sea lion
DFO releases entangle sea lion
DFO releases entangle sea lion
The open wound on the sealion
darting sea lion
DFO releases entangle sea lion
DFO releases entangle sea lion
Photo by Richard Christianson, DFO
DFO and marine mammal personnel on the island after the animal has been anesthetized
Removing the ropes.
Photos by Ryan Murphy.

Ryans Flickr siteSee these other images by Ryan of injured marine mammals that haul out at Race Rocks .




Further comments from resident marine scientist and ecoguardian at Race Rocks Ryan Murphy
: December 21 2009
Ryan was interviewed for this article in the Goldstream Gazette: Daring Sealion Rescue at Race Rocks“Normally, neither DFO or the Vancouver Aquarium will intervene with entangled pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), but this case was special for a number of reasons.
1.  The sea lion was actually tethered to the rocks.  These animals are really tough and can often survive for years with their entanglements.  If tranquilized, these animals would take to the water and most likely drown before a rescue team could get to it.  This wasn’t the case here and so a rescue operation was a viable option.
2.  Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) like this one are listed as a species of special concern under SARA and as such are afforded a higher priority than other more abundant species like harbour seals and california sea lions.
3.  This animal was most likely spotted within 24 hours of its entanglement and was still in relatively good health.  Mike Demarchi of LGL who was on the island monitoring DND activity on nearby Bentinck Island and Rocky Point first spotted it on the morning of the 13th and his team and I were able to keep a very close eye on it during the daylight hours.  It was reported to DFO’s Observe, Record, Report (ORR) line (1-800-465-4336) and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre (at 604-258-SEAL (7325) or via the emergency phone at 604-862-1647).  A case like this on an offshore haul out would most likely have resulted in death by starvation, hypothermia, or drowning long before it was sighted.  In the 3 days between the first sighting (first photograph) and its successful rescue, this animal had further tangled its tether from about 10m to 3m and exacerbated the wound to its flipper.  The gale yesterday would have drowned it had it not been rescued.”


See this file on other injuries to Marine animals which hauled out at Race Rocks in 2009
sea lion with flasher See this file on human caused injuries in other years.. Fishing flashers and neck rings.
See the Northern Sea Lion Taxonomy File with images and videos
See the California Sea Lion Taxonomy File