Two Orphaned Walrus Calves Head to Seward SeaLife Center
These walrus calves will be the second and third walruses to go to the SeaLife Center in two weeks
ALASKA – Two walrus calves were en route to the Alaska SeaLife Center after being rescued via a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules airplane on Monday.
Alaska Fish and Wildlife Service was contacted by the Coast Guard and informed of the calves’ condition. They appeared to be malnourished and in need of immediate veterinary assistance.
They were flown from Barrow to Anchorage, where they are waiting to go to their new temporary home in Seward.
They were transported to Alaska’s biggest city in large kennels on a the Coast Guard HC-130. SeaLife Center officals said that without the Coast Guard the mammals didn’t stand a chance.
“There was not a flight available, and these guys were in critical condition and needed to get back to our veterinarian standing by in Anchorage,” said Tim Lebling, of the Alaska SeaLife Center.
The walruses were accompanied by wildlife experts who monitored the animals during the flight.
They arrived in Anchorage Monday evening and are being transferred by truck to Seward.
Captain Melissa Rivera, a commanding officer at Air Station Kodiak, said it was an unusual task for them, but a part of their job. “With our new presence in the arctic, we can provide our help and support in a variety of ways."
The Alaska Coast Guard units have been heavily involved in the arctic for more than 130 years. One of the first being in 1872 when Revenue Cutter Service ships were sent to help sea lions – that later lead to the Fur Seal Treaty of 1911 and then the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The SeaLife Center, which is the only marine mammal rehabilitation center in the state, has taken in three calves in the last two weeks.
The first walrus calf was brought to the center July 27, after a fisherman spotted it on July 17. Wildlife officials observed it before determining it was separated from it’s herd earlier this month.
Officials guessed it is between four to six weeks. Walrus calves usually stay with their mothers for up to two years.
Between 2003 and 2007 the center helped only four walrus calves.
This summer, along with the walruses, the SeaLife Center has also taken in two Glaucous-winged gulls, both of which were euthinized, a beluga whale, which died July 9, and four recovering harbor seals.