‘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

Just Posted

Duncan firefighters called to Cowichan District Hospital

At about 2:30 p.m. Duncan firefighters were called to Cowichan District Hospital… Continue reading

VIDEO: Cowichan Secondary starts two-week run of ‘The Addams Family’ Jan. 16

The Cow High cast is ready, the stage is set: all they need is you so make tracks to see this show

Cowichan Church wants stolen banner returned

Banner stolen from intersection on Jan. 10

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

BREAKING: At least one person has died in a motor vehicle accident in Port Alberni

Burde Street closed as emergency personnel wait for collision analysis team

Good Samaritan rescues cat found in heaps of garbage at B.C. landfill

The cat was abandoned and left to die at the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill, the BC SPCA says

Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna home to Canada’s most expensive rentals: report

According to PadMapper, units in larger B.C. cities cost $1,300 to more than $3,000

B.C. home sales drop 25% in 2018

The B.C. Real Estate Association points to the federal government’s mortage stress test

Canada asks China for clemency for B.C. man sentenced to death, Freeland says

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to 15 years, but after new trial, was sentenced to die

B.C. surgery wait list has ballooned, group says

B.C. Anesthesiologists’ Society says surgical waits have risen by three times the rate of population

Most Read