Village kids protect seal pup, help get her to SeaLife Center for care
The Alaska SeaLife Center is caring for a bearded seal pup found along the shores of Shaktoolik last month. It’s the first bearded seal in distress that the center has responded to in 17 years.
According to a Thursday release from the center, the 1-month-old female pup was just a week old when she was seen by Shaktoolik residents. Some of the village’s children protected her from being harassed by people or pets.
Since the kids became attached to the pup, the village called the SeaLife Center for help. She came into the center’s Wildlife Response Program on April 13.
SeaLife Center officials say she was extremely underweight when she arrived and had trouble regulating her body temperature.
“When she first started swimming, staff had to assist her out of the water to ensure she didn’t get too cold,” said husbandry director Lisa Hartman.
Since the center has only cared for a few bearded seal pups in its history, staff developed a special diet for her using elements of walrus, harbor seal and fish gruel formulas.
They’re working to increase her blubber layer by feeding her every few hours, while not giving her too much fat too quickly, as that can be harmful to a starving animal, the release states.
If you see a marine mammal in distress, call the SeaLife Center's 24-hour stranding hotline at 1-888-774-SEAL (7325). Trained professionals can walk you through the proper steps to help the animal.
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