The Alaska SeaLife Center Caring for Resilient Sea Otter Pup
October 4, 2018

A male sea otter pup was admitted to the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) on August 9 from Homer. This pup, aged at 2 months upon arrival, is on the road to recovery after extensive treatment.

This sea otter, recently named “Dixon” after Dixon Glacier, arrived dehydrated, malnourished, and barely responsive. He was found to have bacterial infections, anemia, and severe intestinal issues. His rapidly degrading condition led ASLC’s veterinary team to initiate treatment plans quickly, including more elaborate tests like an MRI. Veterinarian Kathy Woodie notes, “The prognosis for this otter looked grave, but he had a fighting spirit and overcame tremendous health conditions.” While this pup is gaining strength, veterinarians and animal care staff still monitor him closely for any lapses in health.

Dixon weighed just over 8lbs upon admittance to the Center and has since almost doubled in size to more than 15lbs. He is bottle fed a special otter formula and also eats small pieces of clam, capelin, and squid. The team remains optimistic about his health as his appetite and curiosity grows. Husbandry Director, Lisa Hartman states, “Now that he has overcome many medical hurdles and has cleared quarantine we are working to integrate him with the other otters at our facility. At 4 months old, Ranney, our female otter, is of similar age and size to Dixon and is hopefully his first companion.”

Sea Otter Awareness Week (September 24 to September 30) emphasizes that sea otters are a keystone species for Alaska’s marine ecosystem. Sea otters are vital to plant health and increasing fish population diversity. Stranding events like Dixon’s, while unfortunate, allow the team at ASLC to identify environmental pressures and emerging infectious diseases that may negatively affect sea otters in Alaska.

Go Back »