Vancouver Aquarium Marina Mammal Rescue attains charitable status


The donations received will help rescue, rehabilitate, and release marine mammals in need

Harbour Seal, Oreo, was rescued in Squamish in 2022 and released over 2 months later. (CNW Group/Vancouver Aquarium)

Harbour Seal, Oreo, was rescued in Squamish in 2022 and released over 2 months later. (CNW Group/Vancouver Aquarium)

The Vancouver Aquarium announced it has established the Vancouver Aquarium Mammal Rescue Society (VAMMR) as an independent registered charity. It will work in partnership with the aquarium with donations to VAMMR going to help marine mammals in distress by helping rescue, rehabilitate, and release them back into the wild.

"For more than 60 years, the VAMMR program has rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of marine animals, including seals, sea otters, turtles, porpoises, and sea lions," said Martin Haulena, DVM, MSc, DACZM, VAMMR executive director, in an organizational release.1

"We also respond to medical emergencies in the field, including disentangling marine mammals caught in fishing gear or plastic. No one else in Canada, and few facilities around the world, have the skills and expertise our team does to help in these situations," he continued.

According to the organizational release,1 VAMMR responds to over 300 marine mammal emergencies and runs the only dedicated marine mammal hospital facility in Canada. Earlier this summer, Vancouver Aquarium was able to release over 100 endangered Northern leopard frog tadpoles back into Kootenays, their natural habitat. The aquarium has partnered with the Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team for the last 10 years to release over 15,000 tadpoles back into the wild since 2013.2 

"Getting our charitable status is a significant milestone in our history," concluded Lindsaye Akhurst, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Manager.1 "With the support of our donors, we will be able to give even more marine mammals a second chance at life."

VAMMR will have its own dedicated staff, volunteers, board of directors, and separate donor and finance management systems. The non-profit will also be able to raise its own money to purchase necessary equipment and improving infrastructure. VAMMR will also be governed by the Canada Revenue Agency laws and regulations while maintaining its partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.1


  1. Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Achieves Charitable Status. News release. Vancouver Aquarium. September 7, 2023. Accessed September 7, 2023.
  2. Vancouver Aquarium Releases Endangered Northern Leopard Frog for Tenth Year. News release. Vancouver Aquarium. June 9, 2023. Accessed September 7, 2023.
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