At first glance it looked like any other rock on the shoreline.
Upon closer inspection, though, it was a baby seal — seemingly extra scrawny and definitely baking in the hot sun, far up the beach during a low tide.
Nicole Malone and Pete Davies were enjoying an afternoon on the beach when they noticed the animal. Cowichan Bay resident Joann Champoux walked by to see Davies tending to the seal.
“I had just noticed that they were pouring water on something and I thought, ‘oh, I bet that’s a seal,’ just because we had come across one and helped with a rescue before,” she said. “I knew a few things to do and a few things to look for.”
The Manhas family, with guests out from Toronto, were out for a stroll when they, too, came upon the distressed seal. Soon, with great teamwork, the small group was working to get the seal into some shade while arrangements for its rescue could be made. A phone call and emailed photo later, Champoux learned the seal was indeed underweight and in trouble.
Davies was able to pick the seal up and put it in a tote provided by the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. From there Champoux and her husband drove the animal to a volunteer in Crofton to await a ferry to the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring Island.
“We got halfway to Crofton and he went silent in our car and we went ‘oh no!’ but then when we got him there to the lady he was talking again,” she said. “I feel like he’s kind of got something wrong with his back. He was kind of dragging it funny on the beach.”
The seal, found to be female, was named Queen Mary and received primary care at the Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring Island before being transferred to join 76 other seals at the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on Aug. 4.