Rare fur seal returns to wild five months after rescue
A northern fur seal rescued off the coast of Campbell River earlier this year has been released back into the wild.
The animal, which came to be known as "Mo," was rescued near Hardwicke Island in January after workers at a Mowi salmon farm found the small seal pup struggling to swim and unable to dive.
Mo was taken to the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre where she was found to be severely underweight for a seven-month-old seal.
On Thursday, Mo was set free on a beach in Ucluelet, where she raced back into the sea "without even a backward glance," according to the Vancouver Aquarium.
“We never know how successful each pup’s recovery will be, but our objective is always a full rehabilitation and return to the ocean," said rescue centre manager Lindsaye Akhurst on Friday.
"Mo is an energetic and spirited animal, which served her well as she recuperated and will help her thrive now that she’s back in the ocean."
Employees at the fish farm fundraised to help pay for Mo's care, while Pacific Coastal Airlines donated flights to the rescue centre.
“It’s always wonderful to see how much people in this province care about our marine mammals and step up to help us save them,” said Akhurst.
Mo’s future is of particular interest to scientists as northern fur seals don't often venture onto land.
The species was hunted to near-extinction for their valuable fur in the early 1900s.
Northern fur seals are now listed as "vulnerable" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and as “threatened” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Before Mo’s release, researchers attached a satellite transmitter to her in order to monitor her location. The public will also be able to track her location via satellite, once this link is live.