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Rescued porpoise clinging to life

By Byron Chu, QMI Agency Vancouver

A rescued porpoise is escorted to a treatment area by officials Tuesday. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

A rescued porpoise is escorted to a treatment area by officials Tuesday. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

A young adult porpoise stranded on Salt Spring Island is fighting for his life after being rescued by the Coast Guard and Vancouver Aquarium staff on Tuesday.

"He's in very poor condition. That's very typical for a stranded cetacean," said Dr. Martin Haulena, a veterinarian at the aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. "They're just not meant to come out on land."

The male porpoise, named Siyay after the coast guard hovercraft that carried the mammal back to Vancouver, is at least 10 kilograms underweight and has lost most of his insulation. He also has parasites, pneumonia, and stomach ulcerations. Centre staff members plan to take X-rays of Siyay to determine if he has any broken bones resulting from contact with other cetaceans or boats.

"There's a lot going against this animal. Historically, the chances of survival for a stranded cetacean on the West Coast are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 per cent, so very, very low chance," said Dr. Haulena.

Siyay is just the second stranded porpoise to be cared for by the rescue centre in the last five years. A baby female named Daisy was found off Victoria in 2008. She recovered successfully and is now living at Vancouver Aquarium.

byron.chu@sunmedia.ca