We still don’t know why all the Steller sea lions are going missing, so it’s hard to know how to help them. There are, however, some ways we can help B.C.’s marine mammals in general.

By volunteering your time or donating household items like towels and rubber gloves, you can help the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre care for sick or orphaned marine mammals.

Cleaning up shorelines is another great way to help out all marine life. Garbage that’s left on the beach or riverbanks end up in the ocean and can hurt or even kill fish and marine mammals. In 2005, over 36,000 Canadians rolled up their sleeves and cleaned up their local coastlines. You, too, can join them in protecting the ocean!
We still don’t know why all the Steller sea lions are going missing, so it’s hard to know how to help them. There are, however, some ways we can help B.C.’s marine mammals in general.

By volunteering your time or donating household items like towels and rubber gloves, you can help the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre care for sick or orphaned marine mammals.

Cleaning up shorelines is another great way to help out all marine life. Garbage that’s left on the beach or riverbanks end up in the ocean and can hurt or even kill fish and marine mammals. In 2005, over 36,000 Canadians rolled up their sleeves and cleaned up their local coastlines. You, too, can join them in protecting the ocean!

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.

Steller sea lion pups can be injured or abandoned for a lot of reasons. Because their rookeries tend to be in remote locations, most incidences go unnoticed. If someone does find a pup, however, the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre can help.

Sea Lion SOS

The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre acts like a hospital for abandoned, injured, or sick marine mammals. Patients are brought in from all over the B.C. coast and cared for until they are well enough to be released into the wild. Since the Aquarium started helping injured marine mammals in the 1960s, the MMR has treated elephant seals, sea otters, Steller sea lions, harbour porpoises, common dolphins, and killer whales. Harbour seals are the most commonly admitted. In some years, the MMR can be taking care of 100 of them at a time.
Steller sea lion pups can be injured or abandoned for a lot of reasons. Because their rookeries tend to be in remote locations, most incidences go unnoticed. If someone does find a pup, however, the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre can help.

Sea Lion SOS

The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre acts like a hospital for abandoned, injured, or sick marine mammals. Patients are brought in from all over the B.C. coast and cared for until they are well enough to be released into the wild. Since the Aquarium started helping injured marine mammals in the 1960s, the MMR has treated elephant seals, sea otters, Steller sea lions, harbour porpoises, common dolphins, and killer whales. Harbour seals are the most commonly admitted. In some years, the MMR can be taking care of 100 of them at a time.

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.

Because the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre runs without support from the government for its operation, it depends on donations and volunteers. There are various ways you can help:
If you see a marine mammal in distress, call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre first at 604-258-SEAL (7325). Don't try to move it unless a Marine Mammal Rescue staff member has okayed it! For example, a harbour seal pup that looks orphaned or abandoned may have simply been temporarily left on safe dry land while its mother goes foraging for food. Donate household items. The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is always in need of supplies to carry out day-to-day activities. Towels, gloves, and rubber boots are all household items that can be put to good use at the rescue centre. Follow safe marine mammal watching guidelines. Seals can become orphaned if their mothers are struck by boats. Steller sea lions are in more remote locations, but are still at risk if a boat comes too close. By keeping a safe distance from animals that are in water or on land, Read More
Because the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre runs without support from the government for its operation, it depends on donations and volunteers. There are various ways you can help:
  1. If you see a marine mammal in distress, call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre first at 604-258-SEAL (7325). Don't try to move it unless a Marine Mammal Rescue staff member has okayed it! For example, a harbour seal pup that looks orphaned or abandoned may have simply been temporarily left on safe dry land while its mother goes foraging for food.
  2. Donate household items. The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is always in need of supplies to carry out day-to-day activities. Towels, gloves, and rubber boots are all household items that can be put to good use at the rescue centre.
  3. Follow safe marine mammal watching guidelines. Seals can become orphaned if their mothers are struck by boats. Steller sea lions are in more remote locations, but are still at risk if a boat comes too close. By keeping a safe distance from animals that are in water or on land, you can reduce the risk of disturbance to marine mammals. More information can be found in the cetaceans section of this site.

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.

Join Sheryl Barber as she takes you on a tour of the Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Follow this link.

Sheryl Barber:

If any person sees any marine mammal that they think is in distress, it’s really important to contact us first before taking any action. We’re trained to assess the situation and determine whether that animal actually needs assistance.

My name is Sheryl, and I work with the Marine Mammal Rescue Program of the Vancouver Aquarium, and we’re here at the Vancouver Harbour at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Once we’ve made a decision to rescue an animal, and we’ve brought it into our rescue centre, we begin by getting a really thorough assessment of that animal’s condition. So we examine it, and that way we can get a really good picture of what that animal might be suffering from.

In over forty years we’ve had many different species of marine mammals through our program. The most common animal that we get is the harbour seal pup, but we’ve also had sea lions, dolphins, whales, and even sea otters.

The Vancouver Aquarium is dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life. That means taking care of all animals in distress. So, if we have a harbour seal that has lost its mom or, say, an animal is injured because of something that people have done, we have a responsibility to act.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.


A harbour seal pup wrapped in a bandage

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.


It’s annoying to run into broken glass and cigarette butts while on the beach, but garbage that makes its way into the habitat of marine animals is more than an annoyance: it’s deadly. Steller sea lions, among other species, can get tangled in discarded fishing nets, plastic bags, and other debris. Nylon packing straps, which are used to tie boxes together, can get around the necks of the sea lions. As the sea lions grow, the nylon cuts into their necks until they’re unable to eat or breathe.

One way to prevent this from happening is to be conscientious about what you throw into the water or down a street drain. Another is to clean up the garbage before it causes any damage. That’s exactly what the TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup does.
It’s annoying to run into broken glass and cigarette butts while on the beach, but garbage that makes its way into the habitat of marine animals is more than an annoyance: it’s deadly. Steller sea lions, among other species, can get tangled in discarded fishing nets, plastic bags, and other debris. Nylon packing straps, which are used to tie boxes together, can get around the necks of the sea lions. As the sea lions grow, the nylon cuts into their necks until they’re unable to eat or breathe.

One way to prevent this from happening is to be conscientious about what you throw into the water or down a street drain. Another is to clean up the garbage before it causes any damage. That’s exactly what the TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup does.

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.

Coordinated by the Vancouver Aquarium, the TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is part of an international effort to clean up shorelines around the globe. It is one of the largest environmental events in Canada and the second largest cleanup in the world. In 2005, over 36,000 Canadians removed 86,201 kg of garbage from their local shorelines. That weighs about as much as 430 Steller sea lions!

The TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup takes place every September and is truly a countrywide effort. All 13 Canadian provinces and territories are involved. Volunteers can clean up the shorelines of rivers, streams, oceans, lakes, and ponds. Divers can even clean up underwater.
Coordinated by the Vancouver Aquarium, the TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is part of an international effort to clean up shorelines around the globe. It is one of the largest environmental events in Canada and the second largest cleanup in the world. In 2005, over 36,000 Canadians removed 86,201 kg of garbage from their local shorelines. That weighs about as much as 430 Steller sea lions!

The TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup takes place every September and is truly a countrywide effort. All 13 Canadian provinces and territories are involved. Volunteers can clean up the shorelines of rivers, streams, oceans, lakes, and ponds. Divers can even clean up underwater.

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.

Taking out the trash has never been this fun! Watch as volunteers get down and dirty to save our shorelines. Follow this link.

Desmond Rodenbour:

I’m Desmond Rodenbour, the National Manager of the TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. The ultimate purpose of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is to clean up shorelines for the protection of habitat and the protection of creatures. Surely it’s lovely to have beautified beaches and shorelines but that’s not ultimately the goal. The most important principle of the Shoreline Cleanup is to make sure that we remove harmful, human-created debris from important habitat.

If you just look at the statistics, last year, 64,000 kg of debris were removed from Canadian shorelines and each one of those objects, an object even as small as a cigarette butt, can kill or injure an animal. So it’s very, very important the work that we do and the work that volunteers all across Canada come out, they make a real difference, both in the community and all across the country.

Sue Horne:

Many drinking bottles found.

Desmond Rodenbour:

Well, I can only see the cleanup growing. Just last year, TD Canada Trust came on as the title sponsor and has allowed us to continue to expand the program. And this year, with almost 37,000 volunteers coast to coast, it is the biggest shoreline cleanup in Canadian history. And I think next year will be bigger and better than this year.

In 2005, more than 36,000 volunteers combed 813 sites across the country removing 86,201 kg of garbage from 1,477 km of shoreline.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.


A Steller sea lion with a fish hook caught in its mouth

Photo : A. Trites

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.


A Steller sea lion with a nylon packing strap wrapped around its neck

Photo : A. Trites

© Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre 2006. All rights reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • familiarize himself with the vocabulary used in biology;
  • assess human impacts on biodiversity, and identify ways of preserving biodiversity;
  • describe how personal actions help conserve natural resources and protect the environment in their region;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the dynamic nature of ecosystems.

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