Female harbor seal, sea otter are SeaLife Center’s newest pups
Two young animals recently taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, which were just days old when they were found alone are doing well – although one case has prompted a reminder for people to contact authorities about stranded marine mammals.
A harbor seal found May 10 north of Homer, then brought to the center by Alaska Wildlife Troopers, is on track to be returned to the wild according to a statement from the center.
“After thorough examination and rehydration, she was deemed a prime candidate for release,” SeaLife Center officials wrote. “Staff is hopeful that if the pup continues to stabilize she will be prepped for release in the area where she was found.”
The otter was rescued by boaters after it was spotted “floating alone” in the middle of Prince William Sound, then taken to the center on June 1.
“The good Samaritans became concerned when they heard the pup screaming and saw no signs of other otters in the area,” SeaLife Center officials wrote. “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.”
On Wednesday, the center urged people to call the statewide Stranded Marine Animal Hotline at 1-888-774-SEAL, noting its reliance on citizens’ help in responding to marine-mammal strandings.
“However, when an animal is perceived to be in distress, the first reaction from an untrained observer is often to approach the animal,” SeaLife Center officials wrote. “An immediate response can be a mistake as it is sometimes difficult to distinguish distress from normal behavior.”
Kathy Woodie, a veterinarian at the center, said Wednesday that she hadn’t heard any indication of federal authorities taking criminal actions in the recovery of the sea otter pup. She emphasized that the boaters who rescued the sea otter pup did so with good intentions.
“In this situation, I think our boaters did a good job of contacting the SeaLife Center,” Woodie said. “Once the SeaLife Center was contacted, our staffers did a good job of putting all the wheels in motion to ensure that this sea otter pup would survive.”
The otter pup has responded well to bottle feeding, but is considered unreleasable in Alaska due to its contact with humans. Woodie says the center has worked with federal authorities to help place rescued otters with Outside aquariums, as “animal ambassadors” for the state’s ecosystem.
Neither animal has yet been given a name by staffers at the center.
“We’re going to wait a bit more for their personality and some of their personal characteristics to unfold,” Woodie said.
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