Rescuing Entangled Sea Lions

Sea lions are well-known for their playful curiosity, but sadly this inquisitive nature can lead to a tragic outcome as they become entangled in marine debris.

It's estimated that more than 400 sea lions along the B.C. coast are currently caught in discarded rope, nets, packing bands, and monofilament line. If left untreated, these materials often result in a prolonged and painful death. The entanglement slowly interrupts the animal's ability to swallow, impairs their ability to breathe, and causes a deep painful laceration. 

Fortunately, with the help of people like you, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue (VAMMR) has pioneered a way to disentangle and save the lives of these animals. 

Over the past two decades, VAMMR veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena has helped develop a precise drug combination to sedate a sea lion in the wild so it may be carefully handled. The procedure to remove the entangled gear often takes place in the water, from a boat, with a floating animal. Success depends upon ideal weather and ocean conditions, requires specialized equipment, a team of expert staff, and boat support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Each disentanglement operation (under licence # XMMS 1 2023) ranges between $5,000–$10,000 for staff costs, medication and equipment and transportation costs.

Report a Marine Mammal in Distress

To ensure your safety and the safety of the animals, please follow these guidelines as you observe and report a marine animal:

  1. Stay back and do not interfere with the animal
  2. Keep other people and pets away
  3. Call 604-258-SEAL (7325)
  4. For large whales and marine mammal incidents call 1-800-465-4336

Please don't try to help an animal on your own. Marine animal rescues are complicated and each case requires careful planning and response depending on the species involved, geography, weather and available resources. 

Our Partners

All VAMMR marine mammal response efforts, including rescues, rehabilitation and releases, are authorized and monitored by DFO.

You Can Be A Marine Mammal Hero

As you can imagine, ocean trash is a persistent threat to all marine mammals. None of the VAMMR's life-saving work would be possible without your support.

By making a gift today, you will help the Rescue team:

  • Use innovative remote immobilization techniques to save entangled animals.
  • Perform complicated medical procedures in the wild.
  • Train other veterinarians and animal experts from around the world so they can rescue and treat entangled animals on their coastlines.


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VAMMR is an independent registered charity proud to be working in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium. Donations will go directly to VAMMR and help rescue, rehabilitate and release marine mammals in distress.


Charitable Registration Number – Canada: 76122 3700 RR0001
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