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Rescued Sea Otter


The Rescue

In mid-October members of the public reported seeing a lethargic and uncharacteristically approachable sea otter on the shoreline of Tofino, British Columbia. The otter appeared to have suffered serious injuries to his flippers and had remained in the same location for an extended period of time. He also failed to flee when people approached to investigate his condition.

The sea otter was brought to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMRC) where it was determined he was riddled with shotgun pellets.


Around-The-Clock Care

Upon arrival at the MMRC, the rescue team worked tirelessly to stabilize the sea otter, known as Walter (Wally), after diagnostic tests revealed his condition was critical. X-rays showed shotgun pellets in his face and body which left him blind and with a serious fracture to his right hind flipper.

A number of procedures were performed on the ailing sea otter by Dr. Martin Haulena, the Vancouver Aquarium’s veterinarian, including a partial amputation of his injured flipper. Wally was also treated with fluids, pain medication and antibiotics, and staff and volunteers spent 24-hours a day caring for him.

Due to his injuries, he could not effectively groom himself, which is essential for a sea otter’s thermoregulation. For the first several weeks of his recovery the Rescue Centre team stabilized his temperature by towel- and blow-drying him by hand. 

The extensive, on-going care Wally requires is very costly. You can help us care for him by donating today.

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The Rehabilitation

In addition to multiple surgeries on the shattered bones in his flipper, Wally also required extensive dental work. The Rescue Centre team, along with visiting veterinary dental specialist, Dr. Loic Legendre, performed oral surgery to treat broken teeth caused by the shotgun blast. Three of Wally's broken teeth were extracted and a complex root canal was performed to save one of his canine teeth.

All these procedures were very successful and after seven weeks of critical care Dr. Haulena reclassified Wally as stable.

Since being in care, Wally has steadily gained weight and his flexibility has improved which means he can now groom himself much better without assistance.


A New Home

After 11 weeks of life-saving treatment and rehabilitation at the MMRC, Wally was moved to the Vancouver Aquarium where he joins Katmai, Tanu and Elfin, three other rescued sea otters receiving ongoing care at the facility.Due to the extensive nature of his injuries and his inability to care for himself in the wild, Walter was designated non-releasable, and his transfer to the Aquarium approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Aquarium is more than happy to provide Wally with a permanent home and provide him with the long-term care he needs.

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The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life.


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