SAANICH INLET, B.C. – An adult porpoise rescued off British Columbia’s Saanich Inlet has been released back into the wild following months of rehabilitation and an emotional goodbye from those who nursed it back to health.
Levi was found near death last March, stranded on a beach and suffering from muscle damage and a lung infection.
Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena says the cetacean couldn’t swim on its own and had trouble hearing, but was able to make a recovery with the help of staff at the aquarium’s marine mammal rescue centre.
After a two-hour boat ride that involved constant monitoring of Levi for signs of stress and keeping it moist with wet towels, staff entered the water with the animal near Saltspring Island.
The porpoise then calmly swam away from the arms of staff, slipping underneath the water and surfacing again metres away, which Haulena says is a good sign that Levi is back to normal.
By the time stranded adult cetaceans are found they’re almost always close to death and Levi is the first cetacean that has ever been rehabilitated and released by the rescue centre.
Marine mammal rehabilitator Taryn Roberts says while she’s happy to see Levi go, the release was a bittersweet moment.