• Alaska SeaLife Center welcomes two otter pups to “I.Sea.U”
By Sean Pearson
When Agnes was rescued from a Homer beach back in April, she hadn’t been alive for long. Three months ago, the weather was much different than it is now. Cold temperatures and snow hung on well into May. It was not exactly the ideal environment for a newborn, stranded sea otter.
Luckily, help came quickly for Agnes. Volunteers took the young pup to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, where she was admitted to the I.Sea.U critical care unit. She spent the next three months fattening up on formula, and now weighs in at a healthy 15 pounds.
She’s also been making friends.
On June 1, a 4-month-old male named Nuka joined Agnes in the I.Sea.U. He was taken to the Center after being reported as abandoned on Kodiak Island.
Nuka did a little fattening-up of his own, and now weighs in at 18 pounds.
According to a Alaska Sea Life Center release, as the otter pups are being weaned from formula to their adult diet of clams and squid, they are eating approximately 25 to 30 percent of their weight in food daily.
The release also indicated that – due to the extent of maternal care required by young otters — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deems pups this age “non-releasable” back into the wild.
In the early stages of rehabilitation, both otters required intense hands-on management to provide all they needed.
Now, the Center is focusing on transitioning the pups’ care to manage them as “independent, young-adult otters.” They must learn to take care of themselves, while still being cared for 24 hours a day.
Visitors to the Center can watch the activities of the otters and their caregivers through viewing windows near the Discovery Touch Pool.
The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only permanent marine rehabilitation center in Alaska, responding to wildlife such as sea otters and harbor seals. The Stranding program responds to sea otters with the authorization of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once a sea otter is admitted to the Center, it is closely monitored by veterinary and animal-care staff.
Alaska SeaLife Center President and CEO Tara Riemer Jones explained that, because there is no federal or state funding available, the program must rely on donations to stay afloat.
For additional information, or to make a donation, visit www.alaskasealife.org.
• Video footage of the otters is available at: www.alaskasealife.org/Agnes_Nuka.MOV
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