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Maitake's first arrival at Smelt Bay
General News · 10th October 2011
James and Marise
Maitake was rescued early Sunday afternoon at Smelt Bay and air evacuated to the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in Vancouver B.C. by volunteer helicopter pilot Norman Snihur.

Maitake is a Snoopy cute one week old pup seal that arrived injured along the shores of Smelt Bay late Saturday afternoon. One eye appeared to be damaged and a small bleeding contusion could be seen towards her tail. She was struggling up the gravel beach on one flipper while trying to avoid being swept back into the Bay by the incoming tide. Night was approaching and there was a cold wind beginning to blow with a drizzling rain; not the best of nights to camping out alone on the rocky shore.

We share our story to encourage others to seek assistance for injured wildlife that they may come across. This was our first experience not only on Cortes but anywhere. After a few telephone calls, Marise contacted the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in Vancouver [(604) 659-3474], operated by the Vancouver Aquarium, and was told by Ashley and Karen to take pictures and email to them to the center for medical assessment. In twenty minutes we were given instructions on how to help Maitake off the beach and take her home for the night where she could safely rest. Our mistake was leaving Maitake alone.

We returned to the beach and sadly found no trace of Maitake, just two playful black dogs romping along the water’s edge where she was last seen. Marise began walking the entire length of the beach. No Maitake. She went up and around the point and there she was lying on the rocks looking a bit haggard. She was not too eager to accept our heart felt invitations to flipper into our plastic blue storage bin. Some how, she managed to roll into the bin (with a wee bit of loving encouragement) despite the injuries on her left side.

We carried her to car and then looked at one another. So now what? We have no garage, a dog at home, and lots of other wild animals in our neighborhood. We went to Jim Kearney’s residence that was very nearby and asked if he could put Maitake up for the night in his carpentry shop. Jim made Maitake a comfy, dry, and safe spot right next to his table saw. We returned home and made the final arrangements with the Rescue Center and Norm for a rescue flight and rendezvous for noon Sunday. Jim and the McKinty family kept a loving vigil on Maitake until her flight to the Rescue Center arrived on Sunday.

By the time Norm’s helicopter was hovering over the field next to the McKinty’s house, a group of twenty or more well wishing Maitake fans had assembled to see her off. Norm set his black R-12 helicopter down in the grassy field like a honey bee landing on a single pedal of a small delicate yellow flower. She was gently carried to the field where Norm carefully lifted her into a small towel cushioned sports duffle bag with lots of ventilation holes for the flight to Vancouver. This is Norm’s 23rd baby seal rescue mission so far this year. He is a retired Canada Air pilot that has logged over 3,000 hours rescuing wildlife in B.C. during the past few years. He said “I love combining my passion for flying in the wilds of British Columbia while bringing injured wildlife back to the various rescue centers.”

A happy “Thanksgiving” to you Norm, the staff at the Rescue Center: Karen and Ashley, Jim, the McKinty family, Maitake’s fans, and Marise for loving to care for her well being. We will give you periodic progress reports on her recovery during her – hopefully brief - visit to Vancouver before her release back into the wild. "Maitake" is the name given to her by the volunteers at the Rescue Center in Vancouver.
James and Marise

PS Late Monday afternoon we heard from the folks at the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in Vancouver, that Maitake is in very serious condition with an infection from her injuries. She has been given a heavy dose of antibiotics. We will continue to send her our love and energy for a full recovery and return to the wild. They will have a more thorough medical report for all of us in about a week’s time.
Maitake resting at Jim's carpentry shop
Maitake resting at Jim's carpentry shop
Norm lands his R-12 Rescue helicopter at Smelt Bay
Norm lands his R-12 Rescue helicopter at Smelt Bay
Maitake is carried to the helicopter
Maitake is carried to the helicopter
Cortesians wish Maitake well
Cortesians wish Maitake well