The Vancouver Awaurium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre consists of indoor and outdoor spaces, all designed for efficient and effective marine mammal care. Staffed with medical and well trained animal care experts the MMR utilizes the full potential of its current location on the Port Metro Vancouver lands.
The indoor space includes food preparation areas, a laboratory and pharmacy, an examination room, anesthetic machine and recovery areas for debilitated animals. The outdoor facilities consist of a variety of holding pools and tubs. These are of varying sizes and designs, to suit different sizes and kinds of marine mammals. The site is organized so that new arrivals, and/or sick animals are separated from any healthy marine mammals. This reinforces the principles of quarantine that are so important in wildlife rehabilitation.
About 100 marine animals are admitted to the MMR Centre every year. Some may be in peril due to habitat destruction and environmental damage, others are suffering from injury due to boat strikes or entanglement in marine debris and many of the young ones have been separated from their mothers (eg by the presence of people on the beach).
Threatened and at-risk species are among those animals that have been rescued and rehabilitated at the Centre. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in 1989, spilling crude oil into the waters of Prince WIlliam Sound and threatening a huge number of animals, the Vancouver Aquarium immediately sent representatives from its Marine Mammal Rescue team to help. A few of the rescued animals deemed unreleasable into the wild and in need of long-term care were fortunate to find homes in aquariums. That is how Nyac, then just a small sea otter pup, came to the Vancouver Aquarium. This much loved animal served as an ambassador for her species for nearly 20 years, helping to teach children and their families about the importance of preserving aquatic life.
More recently, a two-month old harbour porpoise, named Jack, that was stranded in Horseshoe Bay, BC, was rescued and brought to the MMR Centre on September 16, 2011. He is one of a species considered of "special concern" and is being monitored 24 hours a day. When the MMR Centre team arrived in Horseshoe Bay, the 12-kilogram stranded harbour porpoise had difficulty breathing and could no longer swim. His muscles and skin were severely damaged by the pressure of being stranded on the beach. He was immediately transferred to the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre for treatment.
It is stories like Nyac, Jack and the recently released and rehabilitated California sea lion, Flash, that provide valuable lessons learned from having a larger animal in care at MMR and that are influencing our plans for 2011 and beyond. (Click on the link to view a summary of the rescue, rehabilitation and subsequent release of Flash) http://www.globaltvbc.com/video/fishhook+sea+lion+released/video.html?v=21487672078#stories/video
The MMR Pool Platform & Stairs Project is a priority for the Vancouver Aquarium and the MMR, not only for the comfort and safety of the marine mammals but also for the comfort and safety of our staff and volunteers who are currently using the burdensome manner of climbing a step ladder to care for and feed the marine mammal in the larger Saltwater Rehabilitation Tank.
The MMR Pool Platform and Stairs Project are the construction of a stable platform and set of stairs around our largest Saltwater Rehabilitation Tank which was paid for through donations by our Board of Directors. At 30 ft in diameter and 10 ft in depth this tank is a critical component of the MMR as it allows larger marine mammals to have enough space to move and swim more freely, giving the injured wild marine mammal time to rehabilitate, heal and reduce the amount stress while being cared for. Currently MMR staff and volunteers have difficulty attending to the marine mammals because of limited access to the tank other than through the use of step ladders.