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Richmond witnesses release of six rehabilitated harbour seals

The heartwarming event happened at Iona Beach, near YVR
Harbour seals were released at Richmond Iona Regional Beach on Sept. 21. Vancouver Marine Mammal Rescue Society video screenshot

Six rescued seals were released back into the wild in Richmond last Thursday morning.

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Society and its volunteers rescued six seals at the end of June after they were abandoned by their mothers as pups.

The harbour seals, between the ages of two to three months, were released at Iona Regional Beach Park on Sept. 21 in the morning.

“When we are able to release them back out there’s that bittersweet feeling,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of Vancouver Aquarium Mammal Rescue Centre.

“You’re happy because they’re able to go back out, but a little sad too because they’ve been with us for two or three months and we get to work with them so closely.”

Akhurst told the Richmond News it was the first harbour seal release of the season and the turnout of the weather and the volunteers was great.

“It’s also great to be able to share it with our volunteers who put in a lot of hours into working with these animals and getting them ready for release.”

People in the area who were curious about what was happening were invited to join the society during the release, Akhurst added.

When asked why the harbour seals were released in Richmond as opposed to Vancouver, Akhurst said Iona Beach was ideal as there was a lot of beach space and higher tide access.

”It’s a close area for many of these seals from where they were rescued and it gives us a spot where we can monitor the animals for an hour or two afterwards to see how they are doing,” she explained.

“If (the seals) are not quite sure about the area, they can have a nice beach to haul out on. It also brings them straight out to the Pacific Ocean to find their way out to the wild.”