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Alaska SeaLife Center

 

 

 


Lolita
Phoca vitulina

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On May 29th, oil industry workers from Cook Inlet pipeline Co. were following bear tracks on the beach, south of Drift River in western Cook Inlet when they came across a seal pup washed up above the high tide line. The co-workers called the Alaska SeaLife Center's (ASLC) wildlife rehabilitation hot line for help, and they also e-mailed a digital photo of the animal to rehabilitation staff at the Center. Dr. Natalie Noll used the digital photo to help determine the pup's condition. The seal appeared dehydrated and emaciated and would need immediate assistance.

The seal pup was flown to Kenai Municipal Airport and picked up by ASLC rehabilitation staff. Lolita, nicknamed by Center staff members, was given fluids and electrolytes and then weaned onto a seal formula. During Lolita's rehabilitation time, she was slowly weaned off of formula and onto fish. Initially she refused the fish, but ASLC staff used lots of patience and teaching to finally convince the picky eater that she did, in fact, like fish.

By early August, Lolita had demonstrated that she was ready to return to the wild. She was given a clean bill of health and then tagged in two places: a flipper tag was attached to her hind right flipper with an ID number and ASLC contact information, and a satellite telemetry device was glued to her back. This satellite tag monitors dive time, depth and location. Satellite telemetry allows research, education staff, and now you to follow Lolita through her natural environment. On August 7, 2001, Lolita was transported to Northwestern Glacier in the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge by rehabilitation staff with the assistance of Kenai Fjords Tours. Lolita was released near a wild population of harbor seals and is expected to do well.


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