Our rescue program has one of the largest rescue "hospitals" in the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release over 150 marine animals each year.
If you see a marine animal that you believe is in distress:
Rescue situations, and their recommended courses of action, vary dramatically depending on the species concerned. Other critical factors are also involved, such as age, behaviour, location and apparent health. Please don't try to help an animal on your own.
We recently celebrated Donnelly’s rescueversary. Rescued from Twin Islands in 2021 after being struck by a boat, Donnelly recovered incredibly well from her severe injuries. She even gave birth to a pup, the first to ever be born at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre! Due to her head injury and blindness, Donnelly was deemed non-releasable by DFO. She was able to successfully wean her healthy pup Dory, who was released into the wild in October 2021. Donnelly now lives at the Vancouver Aquarium, where she's been doing very well.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is Canada’s only dedicated marine mammal rescue facility and one of the largest in the world. We have rescued and rehabilitated marine animals for over 60 years. Our "hospital" allows for on-site rehabilitation of seals, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles and small cetaceans, such as harbour porpoises. We also respond to off-site marine mammal emergencies, including disentangling sea lions along the coast.
Our team includes a board certified aquatic animal staff veterinarian, veterinary fellows (as well as several consulting veterinarians), registered veterinary technologists, animal care and rehabilitation specialists and many dedicated volunteers. All members of the team are highly trained to provide qualified and experienced veterinary care to our patients.
The Rescue Centre has two indoor spaces. One houses a food preparation area and offices. The other is a new state-of-the art hospital that includes a laboratory, a pharmacy, examination, surgical and recovery areas. Our outdoor facilities consist of a variety of rehabilitation pools and tubs to suit different sizes and species of marine animals at different stages of rehabilitation. Quarantine is critical in wildlife rehabilitation: we keep new arrivals and sick animals separated from healthy ones.
Dedicated volunteers are essential to the success of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. They clean the facilities and animal care spaces, prepare food and assist in animal feeding. Volunteers help prepare and administer medications and treatments, and they accompany staff on rescues and release. They help ensure that every animal receives the care it needs.
Please note: the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is currently not accepting new volunteers
The Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue team rescues over 150 marine animals each year. We rehabilitate them in our rescue centre ─ a hospital and care facility for sick, injured or orphaned marine animals.
Sadly, sea lions frequently entangle in discarded packing straps, rope, strings and nets ─ over 400 sea lions are impacted along our coast. Our Marine Mammal Rescue team has pioneered a way to disentangle these distressed animals. Disentanglements take an extraordinary amount of time, personnel, boats, gear and drugs.
Our team cares for rescued animals at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. It’s a hospital for sick, injured, or orphaned marine animals. Throughout rehabilitation, the team maintains a low-stress environment to keep the animals true to their "wild" nature.
Our primary goal is to rehabilitate marine animals for release back into their natural home. Thorough medical exams help ensure that our patients have the best possible chance of long-term survival once released.
Ongoing contributions made by our valued partners are essential to the success of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.
All of our rescues are collaborative efforts between Marine Mammal Rescue and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). All rescues, rehabilitation and releases are authorized and monitored by DFO.