Young Northern fur seal nursed back to health released at Ucluelet


A northern furn seal found near death by employees at a salmon farming operation in January near Hardwicke Island has been returned to the wild.

"Mo," named aftrer the Mowi Salmon Farm she was found near, was found immaciated, swimming irregularly, unable to dive and floating sideways. 

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre estimated her to be about seven months old.

After being nursed back to health Mo was released at a Ucluelet  beach Thursday -- and didn't even look back.

Mo's wellbeing in the wild is of particular interest to scientists. Northern fur seals were hunted for their valuable fur and almost eradicated in the north in the 1900's

They were granted international protection in 1911, helping populatiosn recover -- but since the 1970s, pup production in their main breeding grounds in the Bering Sea has slumped by about 50%.  And it's continued to drop about 6-7% every year.

They are now listed as "vulnerable" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and as "threatened" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Ocean Wise scientists are involved in an international research program to determine the causes of the decline to help understand how to best conserve the species in the wild.

Before Mo's release, researchers attached a satellite transmitter to her, so they can monitor her location and status for several weeks. The public will also soon be able to track her location via satellite, once the link is live:

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