Canadian Olympian helps release seal pup affected by aquatic debris
ACROSS CANADA, March 8, 2016 /CNW/ - Registration for this year's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is now open, and to help mark the occasion, an animal that almost lost its life because of human litter was released back to the ocean.
The seal pup was rescued on Dec. 16, 2015 on Vancouver Island, with nylon fishing net cutting deep into her neck. Now fully recovered after more than two months of rehabilitation at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, the seal was released this morning, with assistance from the athlete she was named after: snowboarder Maëlle Ricker, the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil.
"It's an enormous honour to be invited to witness the release of the now-healthy seal pup that is named after me. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help raise awareness about the importance of cleaning up our Canadian shorelines to help protect aquatic ecosystems and wild animals like Maëlle."
The Olympian's help is welcome, said Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. "In 2015, almost 60,000 Canadians from coast to coast helped us clean up shorelines throughout the year; it's a great way to learn how litter impacts our ecosystem, species and communities," she said. "But this is a good reminder of what's really at stake. This seal pup is one of the few lucky ones — the trash humans leave behind often has fatal consequences for wildlife in all our waters."
With freshwater species such as fish, turtles and birds already under pressure from habitat loss, the threat of entanglement or ingestion from aquatic debris in lakes, watersheds, rivers and streams is magnified. Marine species face the same fate whether in Atlantic, Pacific or Arctic waters.
"This issue impacts water systems in every corner of the country," said Le Souef. "The litter we leave behind is degrading aquatic ecosystems. By participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup we're picking up debris before it has the chance to cause damage."
Now in its 22nd year, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is Canada's largest conservation-based cleanup. An initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, it enlists Canadians from coast to coast to coast to help rehabilitate shoreline areas at cleanups that take place throughout the year.
"Last year alone, shoreline cleanup participants kept more than 175,932 kilograms of litter from reaching our oceans, lakes, rivers, streams and other water systems," said David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada. "Participants also gained a deeper connection to nature and wildlife while having a positive impact on the planet."
Registration for the 2016 Shoreline Cleanup is now open. Visit ShorelineCleanup.ca to find out how you can join a cleanup, or register as a site coordinator and organize your own.
About the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, the Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups. ShorelineCleanup.ca
About Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a non‐profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. www.vanaqua.org
WWF-Canada builds solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that together, wildlife, nature and people thrive. Because we are all wildlife. wwf.ca
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