News Local

Seal pup released, named after Olympian

By Bryan Mc Govern

Vancouver Aquarium released a rehabilitated seal pup on Tuesday — newly christened with the name of a popular Canadian Olympian.

The seal was rescued last year while suffering injuries from a discarded nylon fishing net that was also cutting her neck.

“She didn’t even bat an eyelash going into the water,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager at the the aquarium’s marine mammal rescue centre, as the seal swam away from Cates Park in North Vancouver. “Her being an older animal when she came in, it’s nice that she’s doing so well, so fast.”

While being treated, the seal was named after 2010 gold medallist Maëlle Ricker, who was on hand for the release.

“I’m extremely honoured,” said the West Vancouver snowboarder. “She seems like she’s ready to get out and find her buddies in the ocean.”

Maëlle slowly swam away as Ricker and the rest of the aquarium staff watched her.

“It’s nice to be able to see her back out there where she should be,” Akhurst said, admitting it was bittersweet to let go of Maëlle after spending so much time together.

The aquarium treated 144 seals in 2015, and even though staff haven’t dealt with any so far this year, Akhurst said they’re expecting that to change pretty soon.

“With [the] summer, we’re anticipating a busy year.”

Ricker wants to continue helping with eliminating trash that ends in the ocean potentially hurting sea life.

“I know that there’s a lot of organized great Canadian shoreline cleanups in Squamish, I’d love to be a part of that.”