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Rescuing Sea Lions:
Notes From The Field 

Live-streamed on Monday, June 23, 2014

Vancouver Aquarium’s veterinary medical team share their stories of rescuing sea lions in the field. 

Sea lions are charismatic marine mammals that are found along the West Coast of North America.  Related to seals, sea lions are also pinnipeds that are often seen lying on rocks, docks and other objects.  Recently, more and more sea lions in the Canadian province of British Columbia are in distress; sea lions can become entangled in various types of debris that can cause severe injuries and even result in death.

The expert presentations focused on sea lion entanglement issues in B.C., the types of debris that sea lions have on them, frequency of entanglements, the development of an anesthetic protocol for disentangling sea lions, and the issues involved with disentanglement operations. 

About The Speakers


Dr. Martin Haulena

Dr. Martin Haulena graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in 1993.  He completed a clinical internship in aquatic animal medicine at Mystic Aquarium in 1996 and a Master’s degree in pathobiology from the University of Guelph in 1999.  He became a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine in 2007.  Dr. Haulena was the Staff Veterinarian at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California for 9 years.  He has been Staff Veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium since 2006.  His special interests are in the medical management of aquatic animals, particularly marine mammals, with emphasis on innovative diagnostic methods such as MRIs, endoscopy and sonography, developing safe anaesthetic protocols and improving surgical techniques. Veterinary students from around the world study aquatic animal medicine each year under the direction of Dr. Haulena.  He serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre. His professional affiliations include the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine, Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Zoological Veterinarians.  He has authored over 45 scientific journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Marty

Wendy Szaniszlo, MSc

Wendy Szaniszlo is a research associate with the Vancouver Aquarium and marine mammal ecologist with over 14 years of experience conducting research and monitoring of marine mammal species-at-risk in collaboration with other government agencies, universities and research groups. She completed a double major in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, specializing in marine resource management, and then returned to pursue a graduate degree studying sea lion interactions with vessels in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.  Wendy has worked with Parks Canada for over 14 years in various capacities including as a Planning Assistant with a National Marine Conservation Area feasibility study, as well as a Species-at-Risk Planner. In 2005 she took a year of leave to work on cetacean and sea lion species-at-risk projects, doing research as an independent contractor and as an Associate with the Pacific WildLife Foundation. She has continued working as a contracting marine biologist for the National Marine Mammal Lab (NMFS), Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Cetus Research and Conservation Society, and most recently with the Vancouver Aquarium. Her work has involved cetacean surveys, humpback and grey whale monitoring programs, Steller sea lion population assessments and brand re-sight surveys, involvement in sea lion diet studies, as well as participating in sea lion branding and tagging programs. Her most recent focus is sea lion entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, including the development of disentanglement techniques and protocols. Wendy’s passion is doing applied research to protect marine mammals and their habitat.


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