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Angelica
Mirounga angustirostris

On March 17, 1999 a juvenile female northern elephant seal was found stranded on a beach near Seward Alaska. She appeared sick and weak with lesions on her body. The elephant seal was transported to the Alaska SeaLife Center's (ASLC) rehabilitation quarantine area for treatment. Shortly after arriving at ASLC, the elephant seal was diagnosed with northern elephant seal skin disease. This disease is not widely understood, but it does cause skin lesions to develop over their bodies. This type of illness is responsible for nearly 40% of deaths among yearling elephant seals.

The Center's staff named the elephant seal "Angelica" and began treatment that included supplementing her diet of herring, capelin and squid with antibiotics. The lesions were also treated with a disinfectant solution. Angelica's recovery took approximately three and a half months. When she arrived at the Center she was weak and weighed 240 pounds. At the time of her release she weighed 559 pounds.

Just prior to her release Angelica molted. Molting is common in pinnipeds (fin-footed animals such as seals and sea lions). It is the process in which the animal sheds their old fur and outer skin cells and replaces it with new fur. After the molt was completed a satellite transmitter was attached to Angelica so the ASLC staff could track her movements along the Pacific coast. Researchers at the Center were interested in learning more about elephant seal diving habits, feeding habits and migration patterns.

On August 11, 1999 Angelica was released approximately 35 miles south of Seward and the Alaska SeaLife Center in the Gulf of Alaska. If you want to learn more about where Angelica traveled, click here.

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