The Alaska SeaLife Center Announces Arrival of Seal and Sea Otter Pups
June 13, 2018

Seward, Alaska (June 13, 2018) A female harbor seal pup and female sea otter pup, both just days old, were recently admitted to the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC). These two responses illustrate the importance of public awareness of proper stranding protocols.

The harbor seal pup was found stranded on May 10, north of Homer. In the area she was found, it is speculated she was separated from her mother when the tides changed drastically. Wildlife Troopers transported the seal to ASLC wildlife responders. After thorough examination and rehydration, she was deemed a prime candidate for release. Staff is hopeful that if the pup continues to stabilize she will be prepped for release in the area where she was found.

The sea otter pup was spotted by boaters floating alone in the middle of Prince William Sound. The good Samaritans became concerned when they heard the pup screaming and saw no signs of other otters in the area. They noticed the pup go face down in the water, which sparked them to pick the animal up. On June 1, she was transported to the Center. ASLC veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Woodie noted, “We’re so pleased she readily took to bottle feeding. Often sea otter pups take days before they will latch on a bottle and must be tube fed to receive critical nutrients.” While this little pup is strong, veterinarians are monitoring her for pneumonia from inhaling sea water; so far she shows no signs.

Since the Alaska SeaLife Center responds to 33,904 miles of coastline, we rely on stranding partners and civilians to assist in accessing sick or injured marine mammals so medical care can be provided. However, when an animal is perceived to be in distress, the first reaction from an untrained observer is often to approach the animal. An immediate response can be a mistake as it is sometimes difficult to distinguish distress from normal behavior. Animal Care Specialist, Halley Werner notes, “Some animals leave their young in what they perceive to be a safe place while foraging for food and will return shortly. If you are concerned about an animal, before you intervene, call first 1-888-774-SEAL.”

Marine animals have been safeguarded by the Marine Mammal Protection Act since 1972, so any disturbance to them is illegal without permission from the correct government authorities. If a sick or injured animal is encountered, ASLC staff urge people to call first, observe at a safe distance, respect the animal's territory, and keep pets and children away. ASLC operates a 24-hour stranding hotline where trained professionals will walk people through the proper steps to assist the animal. Call 1-888-774-SEAL if you see a marine mammal in distress.

The Alaska SeaLife Center's Wildlife Response Program is funded by donations of both individuals and corporate donors such as BP, ConocoPhillips, SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, PetZoo, and GCI.

About the Alaska SeaLife Center: Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) research institution and public aquarium. We are excited to be celebrating 20 years of generating and sharing scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit www.alaskasealife.org or find us on Facebook.

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