World Oceans Day Sea Otter Story
June 8, 2020

Today, on World Oceans Day, the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) would like to tell the story of Zippy. Many Seward residents rightfully expressed concern about the sea otter in Resurrection Bay with a pink zip tie embedded around his paw this spring. While residents and ASLC staff were aware of the injured otter for months, catching a robust, male sea otter who can swim and dive is an incredible challenge. Both ASLC staff and locals spent hours daily looking for the otter trying to pinpoint his routine and whereabouts.

On May 25th he was finally caught. ASLC staff, individuals from University of Alaska Fairbanks, and crew from the R/V Sikuliaq worked for over 4 hours trying to approach him and eventually net him off the stern of the research vessel. He was quickly transported to ASLC where veterinarians found that unfortunately, he sustained a very serious bone infection that could take months to heal. “Likely, Zippy's paw will never be the same, but we hope he will overcome the infection, show that he can forage normally, and be released back to Resurrection Bay.  We appreciate all the calls and support from local Sewardites as we monitored him this spring,” states Wildlife Response Curator, Jane Belovarac. 


ASLC staff is doing everything they can to keep him comfortable and treat his infection, but there are significant challenges with housing an adult sea otter especially due to the financial hardships brought on by COVID-19. While the Center is thankful for partners like Sea Otter Foundation and Partners4Wildlife, many sponsors were understandably unable to offer support this year. Zippy, who is currently about 65 lbs, is being treated with daily antibiotics and other medication and eats around 18-20 lbs of shellfish a day, which adds up to be very expensive.


One way to help Zippy and other wildlife response patients is to donate to the Wildlife Response Program at:  

People can also symbolically adopt a sea otter in ASLC care at:


Sharing this story on World Oceans Day is important because while Zippy’s circumstances are disheartening, he brings a powerful message that we need to protect our Alaskan wildlife. Zippy is a victim of marine debris. It is every individual's responsibility to secure any type of plastic waste whether for personal or commercial use. Reduce plastic use when possible, keep track of trash, cut zip ties when done, and consider using biodegradable alternatives to plastic ties for short term tasks. There are many little things each and every one of us can do to make a big difference for marine life in Alaska.


Photo credit goes to @raven_song_photography


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