A Canadian marine mammal rescue team captured the moment they rescued a Steller sea lion from a piece of nylon rope wrapped around her neck.
The thick, braided rope was found cutting deeply into the sea lion just off Fanny Bay in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, by a team from Vancouver Aquarium.
The Stellar sea lion, who weighed 260 kilograms, is one of “hundreds” of animals trapped in marine litter along the coast.
On Saturday, a team from #VanAqua’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre saved a female Steller sea lion entangled in plastic rope off Vancouver Island. You can help protect marine life by signing the #BePlasticWise pledge: https://t.co/7yYeGmvRzR pic.twitter.com/YfvZOaw6I8— Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua) March 21, 2018
Dr Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium, said: “We’re happy we were able to save the female. The rope was cutting in quite deeply and she was suffering badly and would eventually have died.
He added: “We know there are hundreds of animals entangled in trash and plastic on our coast, and unfortunately we just can’t get to all of them.”
The team attempted to save another young Steller who was caught up in a plastic packing strap, but the sea lion escaped before it could receive help.
Each rescue costs around $2,000 and the team have rescued more than 20 entangled sea lions, often several during one trip.
The Steller sea lion is considered the “king” of the species but is endangered in parts of Canada and Alaska, said Ocean Wise, a charity working for the health of the world’s seas.
Researchers will examine the rope with hopes to identify where the marine debris came from and encourage the public and governments to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics.
Haulena said: “The problem of plastic pollution in our oceans is becoming a crisis, and it’s one that we all need to take more seriously in our daily lives.”
The aquarium last week launched a global #BePlasticWise campaign calling on people to reduce single-use plastic waste. More information can be found here.