This morning my Langdale neighbor Katie Behboudi noticed a young seal drifting on the ocean near our homes. It was seriously injured and bleeding. It looked as if a chunk had been taken from its side. Guts hung from the wound.
Six other neighbours gathered on the beach. We discussed ways to help the creature, and we watched it struggle to stay afloat.
I suggested an orca may have attacked it.
“It was probably not an orca,” Katie said. “An orca would have finished it off. It was probably a boat propeller.” She began making phone calls.
“I called Marine Animal Rescue, but they were in Vancouver so the answer was no,” Katie said. “I called the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. ‘Someone may contact you,’ they said, but they didn’t, so I called them again. Then I called the BCSPCA. They were quite concerned that no one would do anything about it, so they called the rescue service and the DFO.”
The DFO asked for a photo of the seal so I kayaked out to it. I was able to paddle within a metre of the animal, which was about a metre from shore. It stared at me with pleading eyes. It managed to push itself onto a rock just at the tideline. It lay there and bled.
Then Stormaway, the passenger ferry that goes to Gambier Island, passed in the distance and sent a strong wake rippling through the water. The waves pushed the seal off the rock and back into the ocean.
Soon its eyes closed and it floated quietly near the rocks. I was sure its life had ended. I left the scene as it drifted away.
Later, Katie reported, the seal had come back to life—too briefly though. It struggled again and then died. Her voice broke as she said she had learned that no specific service exists on the Sunshine Coast to deal with marine mammal emergencies. “It just wasn’t right what happened here. I’m not saying someone had to come to rescue it, but put it out of its misery, please.”
Five hours after the initial sighting of the seal, she got a call from the conservation officer for the region. “He was in Squamish; DFO is in Powell River. He said it’s like a broken system. He said that the next time something like this happens I should contact the RCMP. ‘They will support you.’”