10. 300 kilogram muscular sea lion from the beach during a rescue attempt, February 26

It’s the only story on this year’s roster that didn’t have a positive outcome, so we’ll take it out first.

Emergency personnel and bystanders joined with staff at the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in an attempt to save a distressed Steller sea lion found on Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo last winter.

“He was certainly not exhibiting any normal behavior, so we chose to put him to sleep, sling him up and carry him to the road,” said Emily Johnson, deputy director of the Marine Mammal Rescue Center.

Access to the beach is via a set of over 300 steps, but the team chose to transport the sea lion – which Johnson estimated to weigh between 300 and 350 kilograms – on a trail that runs alongside the stairs.

“The community has really come together …” she said. “We had some muscle to help us get to the end of the road, but… we did it. It was a huge undertaking, for sure. It was definitely the most physical rescue I have ever been on.

Johnson said the sea lion was in fact underweight. Despite Herculean efforts to save the animal, it died shortly after being placed in the transporter.

Johnson said she was impressed with the way people flexed their muscles in an attempt to save the animal.

“I could tell that everyone was very invested in helping,” she said.

9. VIU research refutes the existence of the Vancouver Island wolverine, February 11

Next on the list is the story of an animal that technically never really existed.

New research from VIU suggests that the Vancouver Island wolverine, a species on the British Columbia Red List, is ultimately not distinct from wolverines found on the mainland and therefore not. in peril after all.

Proving this has not been easy, as there have been no confirmed wolverine sightings on the island since 1992.

“That’s what makes him so interesting. It’s a bit of a sasquatch story for the island, ”said Jamie Gorrell, professor of biology at the University of Vancouver Island.

He and VIU biology graduate Evan Hessels visited museums and scratched pieces of dried flesh from skulls and pierced skulls, teeth, claws and bones. They collected dust, chemically decomposed it in the lab with enzymes, studied “certain points in the genome” and compared several samples.

“The coolest part in my opinion was getting the DNA from almost century-old museum specimens,” Hessels said. “It was definitely a happy time when we were able to get success with it. “

8. Police dogs get crochet blankets for Christmas, December 14th

This Christmas has been a warm and hazy time for the RCMP Police Department dogs in Nanaimo after the four anti-crime force dogs received new crochet blankets.

Sandy Clark of Nanaimo began practicing the hobby after her mother, who was “passionate” about crochet, passed away in 2008.

“It was my way of carrying on her legacy and keeping her in my thoughts,” Clark said in a press release.

Const. Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Gary O’Brien said in a press release that the dog handlers appreciated the gift.

“Everyone said it was so heartwarming to think that a complete stranger would devote so much time and energy to their beloved dogs,” he said.

7. Firefighters save dogs from the Abyss crevasse again and again, July 20

Hopefully no more dogs fall into the Nanaimo Abyss Rift, but if they do, the firefighters have practiced a lot of saving dogs.

At least three dogs fell into the crack in 2021 – the News Bulletin wrote of incidents in February, March and July – and each time the dog was safely recovered.

Dale Rahim said he wouldn’t forget the sight of his tiny Chihuahua-Butterfly Harley cross scratching at the edge of the Abyss, then tumbling out of sight into the darkness several feet below.

Rahim and his family were hiking the Extension Ridge Trail and he said his dog’s leash slipped out of his hands.

Firefighter Jared Anaka tied himself up in the Abyss to glue a collar to the animal with a pole with an adjustable buckle that the firefighters had purchased specifically for such situations.

Rahim said he was impressed with the skills of the rescue team and grateful, and he also had a few words for Harley.

“You’re back. Oh, my God, you’re back. It’s amazing. You’ve been in the depths of a cave that no one else has,” he said.

6. Nanaimo man donates 140,000 shellfish specimens to the Biodiversity Museum, July 25

A Nanaimo man’s collection of 140,000 shellfish has found new home in a BC biodiversity museum.

Bill Merilees, a retired BC Parks regional information officer, has collected shellfish from large clams to tiny snails found on the shores of British Columbia for nearly 50 years. At that time, he collected and cataloged over 140,000 seashells, and perhaps the largest collection of micromolluscs ever assembled on the coast of British Columbia.

“I would find a nice rock at low tide and scrape up all the mud and take it out, put it in a plastic bag and take it home and put it in.” [my wife’s] freezer, which of course was not very popular, ”he said.

Merilees, who is now 80, has stopped taking fundraising trips in 2020, but he hopes his donation, intended for the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia, will become a learning resource for future students. biology students.

5. The SPCA announces the opening of a new barn in Nanaimo for abused and neglected farm animals, March 31

The SPCA’s new farm animal recovery and adoption barn is now open in Nanaimo.

The facility, adjacent to the Nanaimo Community Animal Center and BC SPCA District, helps the SPCA care for abused and neglected farm animals.

The barn was named Seasted Stables in recognition of the Seasted Foundation, “which provided generous funding for the barn and pens, as well as a contribution for the first year of operation,” according to a press release.

“It is such a joy to see this much-needed facility on Vancouver Island become a reality,” Leon Davis, director of the Nanaimo and District BC SPCA, said in the statement. “Seasted Stables will be an invaluable asset as we seek to protect and improve the lives of farm animals in the region. “

4. Rescuers release humpback whale “anchored” in shrimp traps, June 11

Fortunately, help was at hand for a humpback whale that became entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off Nanaimo.

Paul Cottrell, Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ marine mammal response program coordinator, said fishery officers were working just five minutes from a location where an adult humpback whale was caught in a trap. shrimp.

The animal, an adult estimated to be around 12 meters in length, had become so entangled it was anchored in place, possibly for 24 hours, when it was discovered.

“It was a 50-rope trap line with anchors at each end over 3,000 feet of rope, so there was a lot of gear holding that guy, a lot of weight,” Cottrell said.

The boat and the Marine Mammal Response Team rushed to the scene and assessed the situation with an aerial drone and remote-controlled submersibles, “because you can make it worse if you cut the wrong line,” he said. Cottrell said.

After releasing the mammal, they observed it for almost an hour and it appeared to be functioning normally again.

“It couldn’t have been better,” Cottrell said.

3. Dog with five puppies found abandoned and hungry, December 19

A dog and five puppies, found abandoned and emaciated, are treated in Nanaimo.

A two year old dog named Celeste and five puppies were recently brought to Nanaimo and the BC District SPCA and are now receiving care in a foster home.

“She lived outside and was starving, but she was obviously doing everything she could to try to feed her puppies and keep them safe,” Bonnie Pequin, head of the Nanaimo SPCA, said in a press release. . “She is such a sweet and loving female dog and a very good mother.”

The female dog will remain in care for at least a month until she reaches normal body weight, then will be sterilized and put up for adoption. The puppies will also be available for adoption in the New Year.

2. Volunteer firefighters rescue dog from cliff near Ammonite Falls, September 24

The Kona Golden Retriever was a lucky dog ​​after falling off a cliff, but was rescued near Ammonite Falls this fall.

Volunteer firefighters from the East Wellington Fire Department were called in to rescue a dog that had fallen off a cliff at Benson Creek Falls Regional Park. When firefighters arrived, they saw the dog had fallen about 15 meters, but managed to land on a shelf that kept it from falling the remaining 30 meters to the rocky bed of the stream.

Captain Darcy Morgan and his team installed a harness and safety lines on the winch of a side-by-side ATV they had used to get to the site and lowered Morgan down to the dog.

“It was a little miracle the dog ended up on the ledge it ended up on because when I got there I couldn’t put my feet in anything,” Morgan said. . “It was unreal. If he had tried to turn around, he would have been at the bottom of the creek bed.

1. Fisherman catches five-foot shark near Nanaimo Entrance Island, July 13

He was over five feet long, but he was definitely not a keeper.

Nanaimo fisherman Roy Ban stung a six-gilled shark in relatively shallow water just off Entry Island.

“I could totally tell it was a big deal, just the way he was heavy and the way he fought – I just wasn’t sure what it was,” he said. he declares.

About 15-20 minutes of fighting put the fish in sight, and Ban said he thought it was some kind of shark, but he pushed his way down and it took the fisherman another 15. -20 minutes to tire it out and bring it to the surface a second time. Even after taking a closer look, he still wasn’t sure what kind of shark he had caught. He cut the line and let go.

Subsequently, Ban said an expert confirmed it was a six-gilled shark, a species common to British Columbia but prefers to stay on the ocean floor.

Even though Ban’s hold wasn’t a Guardian, it was worth it.

“I had to bring it to see what it was,” he said.

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Year in review 2021