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
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.