A young male harbour porpoise is under 24-hour watch at the Vancouver Aquarium after it was found stranded Tuesday on the shores of Saanich Inlet.
After getting a call from a resident on Tuesday afternoon, a team from the aquarium’s marine mammal rescue centre travelled to the Island in the evening to pick up the animal, which has been named Levi.
The odds of the porpoise surviving are slim, the Vancouver Aquarium said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, once stranded, porpoises have historically had a very poor chance of recovery and this is especially true for adult animals that may have serious underlying health issues,” the statement said.
The rescue team has had better luck saving porpoise calves than adults.
The aquarium’s veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, said the first 48 hours of care are critical.
It’s unclear what caused the porpoise to become stranded.
This animal is of healthy weight, but is unable to swim on his own and is supported by a specially designed sling that helps him to float.
“The porpoise will continue to receive critical care, with the goal to stabilize [him] with fluids, antibiotics and nutrition while the team plans further diagnostic procedures,” the statement said.
Adult porpoises in this area have to deal with injuries from other animals and human-related activities, severe fungal infections, heavy parasite loads and bacterial infections, the aquarium said.
“Harbour porpoises are increasingly being recognized as a sentinel species in the Salish Sea and investigating the causes of health problems in porpoises can potentially provide valuable insight into the health of our local ecosystem,” it said.
Haulena said that if the porpoise recovers and demonstrates he can find food, the aquarium will release him back into the wild.