Three months ago a California sea lion named Campbell was found underweight and sick near Campbell River.
Friday he was released back into the ocean at the Otter Point Resort in Sooke looking healthy and happy.
The sea lion was first admitted to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, where after an exam veterinarians found he was suffering from dehydration, pneumonia, an old fracture to his left flipper, and was malnourished.
“We received several calls from concerned members of the public about a sea lion at Willow Point,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the rescue centre.
“We do see a large number of male California sea lions arriving in our area at this time of year, but it’s unusual to see one remain for several days on a beach where there is human activity.”
After working with Campbell for many hours, the rescue team was able to bring him back to good health.
The marine mammal rescue centre assists distressed marine mammals along the B.C. coastline. Patients range from elephant and harbour seals, sea otters, sea lions, sea turtles, harbour porpoises, false killer whales, dolphins and other cetaceans including orcas.
Akhurst said each year the number of mammals treated is increasing each year, but attributes it to more awareness of the rescue centre.
This year, more than 200 marine mammals have been admitted to the rescue centre, and Campbell was the third sea lion to be admitted in 2017 for treatment.
Akhurst said the most rewarding part about her job is getting to see the animals return to their natural habitat after working with them all the way through treatment.
“This is not something we get to do very often with our sea lions, so it feels awesome to be a part of the whole thing,” said Akhurst.
She explained because sea lions are such a large mammal and are very labour intensive to help, they don’t treat many at the rescue centre, but when they do it’s special to see them released.
“Days like today make it all worthwhile,” said Akhurst. “It’s a great feeling and we are just happy to be there for these animals.”
Donate to the rescue centre at www.vanaqua.org/mmr.