Featured Photo: Vancouver Aquarium
On February 14, a North Pacific spiny dogfish, a special species of shark, was released in Burrard Inlet following six months of rehabilitation at Vancouver Aquarium. This Ocean Wise initiative was the first rescue, rehabilitation and release of a shark for the Vancouver Aquarium in it 62-year history.
In August 2017 Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre was contacted by a concerned beachgoer who was witnessing a distressed fish on the beach at Lumberman’s Arch. Vancouver Aquarium’s Veterinary and Fishes team immediately mobilized and responded the stranded animal.
The female shark was found entangled in a fishing net which has weakened and disoriented her as well as given her significant skin wounds. Her breathing was shallow and she had damaged spiracle and blood in one eye.
The head veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium said that the North Pacific spiny dogfish was in extremely poor shape when she was found and that his team provided the 24-hour intensive care required to stabilize the dogfish when she was transferred to the aquarium. The 24-hour intensive care insisted of the team supporting and ensuring she had water flowing over her gills, her blood being closely monitored to help dissipate lactic acid, increase tissue oxygenation and prevent muscle atrophy which could lead to permanent damage to the vertebral column.
The rescued dogfish quickly started swimming independently and after two weeks of rehabilitation, she began eating squid when hand-fed by an aquarium biologist. As her appetite and diet expanded, her wounds healed and she became much stronger.
North Pacific spiny dogfish are found in waters from California to Alaska, along with the Aleutian chain to the Asian coast and south to Japan. It is listed as a species of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The lifespan of the spiny dogfish is estimated to be up to 100 years.
Vancouver Aquarium would like to extend gratitude to Seattle Aquarium’s Curator of Fish and Invertebrates Tim Carpenter who provided guidance during the spiny dogfish rehabilitation process.
For more information visit, www.aquablog.ca.