It's a boy!! The Alaska SeaLife Center is pleased to announce the birth of a male Steller Sea Lion pup at 12:14 pm on July 20, 2014. Parents are 14-year-old mother, Eden, and 21-year-old father, Woody. Eden and pup are healthy and doing well. The pup is not expected to be available for public viewing for a few months.
Eden and Woody became parents last summer with the birth of Ellie on June 20, 2013. Ellie marked the first Steller Sea Lion pup born in North American collections since the mid 1980s.
Photo credits: Alaska SeaLife Center
For almost 10 years, Steller Sea Lion research has continued to be one of the largest research focuses at the Alaska SeaLife Center. It is no wonder either—Steller Sea Lion populations in western and south-central Alaska are still below historic numbers, have not fully recovered from significant population declines, and remain listed as endangered on the Federal Endangered Species List. It is not only important to study this species to ensure their survival, but to also learn more about the marine ecosystems in which they inhabit, and how they adapt to environmental change.
An orphaned Northern Fur Seal left in a box outside the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices is on track despite a rough start in life.
Photo Credit: Alaska SeaLife Center
The Stranding Team at Alaska SeaLife Center took in the newborn Seal, who weighed only 9.5 pounds, on July 24. A note on the box said that the pup’s mother had died giving birth. The pup, named Chiidax by the staff, was underweight and dehydrated.
Today, Chiidax weighs 18 pounds and weaned at four months old, which is right on target for a wild Fur Seal. Chiidax now enjoys whole fish rather than formula.
Now that Chiidax is weaned, he’s also molted his dark pup coat and sports the cream and brown coat of a young juvenile.
Northern Fur Seals inhabit the Pacific Coast of the United States, the Bering Sea, and the coast of the Russian Far East. As a male Fur Seal, Chiidax is destined to weigh about 590 pounds (270 kg) when full grown. Male Fur Seals weigh four to five times as much as females. Northern Fur Seals are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A wondrous spectacle of nature
began unfolding on March 6 at the Alaska SeaLife Center: LuLu, a Giant Pacific Octopus,
has been tenderly guarding her brood of eggs, which she began
laying in March 2012. Now, over a year later, tiny hatchlings known as
paralarvae have begun to emerge, and the baby Octopuses are captivating visitors and staff.
LuLu laid eggs
throughout the spring of 2012 after an encounter the previous fall with Felix,
a male Giant Pacific Octopus. A female will lay up to
30,000 eggs only once in her lifetime, and she will brood and guard the eggs until
they hatch. A male may mate with several females but will
expire following this reproductive period. Lulu's lifespan will end when the last of her eggs hatch.
Photo Credit: Alaska SeaLife Center
"LuLu is not feeding at this time but continues to groom and fan the eggs
as attentive Octopus mothers do in this final reproductive phase of their
lives," said Richard Hocking, the Center’s aquarium curator.
While other Octopus species are
frequently raised from eggs in aquariums, that is not the case with the Giant
Pacific Octopus. Only once, in the mid-1980s, has a Giant Pacific Octopus been
successfully reared from egg to maturity in an aquarium. Giant Pacific Octopuses
are difficult to rear due to the delicate nature of the newly-emerged paralarvae
and their unique nutritional needs. To increase the odds of raising the
hatchlings to adulthood, aquarium staff are harvesting both wild and cultured
zooplankton to feed the paralarval Octopuses and have also constructed special
In the wild, the tiny hatchlings,
which are about the size of a grain of rice, swim toward the ocean surface and can spend
several weeks or even months drifting in the plankton-rich water until they are
large enough to hunt in the depths. Once they settle to the bottom, juveniles take
refuge in crevices and under rocks, where they are protected from predators while
they feed and mature. Octopuses eat crustaceans and mollusks along with other
bivalves, snails, fish and smaller Octopuses.
As adults, Giant Pacific Octopuses live in the cold waters
of the northern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Canada, Alaska, Japan, and
Siberia at depths of over 200 feet (65 m).
Adults attain an arm span of up to 14 feet (4.3 m) and weigh about 33
pounds (15 kg). They are considered the
largest of all Octopus species. Little is known about these animals in the
wild, so they are not protected by international treaties.
This orphaned female Sea Otter pup was rescued off the side of a road by Alaska SeaLife Center volunteers on October 19, 2012, after efforts to locate her mother were unsuccessful and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the intervention.The pup was immediately transferred to its I.Sea.U. critical care unit in Seward, Alaska for emergency treatment. She was estimated to be approximately eight weeks old when found, and was deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service due to the maternal care required by young otters.
She has just been transferred from the Alaska SeaLife Center to its new permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium, which will allow the pup to receive the ongoing care and companionship she needs. Described as playful, and sometimes mischievous, she has adjusted well and soon will be introduced to Tanu and Elfin -- two Sea Otters who were also found stranded as pups and rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center in years past.
Photo Credit: Alaska SeaLife Center
Local students from the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Ocean Sciences Club provided three possible Alaskan names for the baby Otter: Susitna, Katmaiand Glacier. The final choice will be made through a voting contest held by the Vancouver Aquarium.
Learn more of this story of teamwork below the fold:
The dramatic journey of two male Pacific Walrus calves, found
stranded this summer near Barrow, Alaska, made a huge leap forward this week when
they arrived at their new permanent homes – the Indianapolis Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York
The touching stories of Mitik and Pakak, each just a few months
old, began when they were found alone and suffering from dehydration on
separate occasions in late July.The tale
of their rescue and rehabilitation at the Alaska SeaLife Center was first
chronicled by ZooBorns on July
27 and their progress updated on August
10.Readers around the world were captivated
by the way the calves immediately bonded with their caregivers through touching
Walrus are very tactile and social animals, and the
dedicated staff and caretakers at the SeaLife Center provided the social
interaction that the calves needed. Walrus calves almost immediately adjust to
human care, so they are not candidates for release back into the wild.
Because the SeaLife Center is it not large enough
to permanently house all the wildlife it rescues, Pakak moved last week to the Indianapolis
Zoo and Mitik traveled to the New York Aquarium. The staffs at each institution are understandably
thrilled with their new arrivals, but fans will have to wait awhile to see the
new calves: both will undergo a routine
quarantine period, with numerous health checks, before being introduced to the
adult Walruses living at each zoo. It
may be several months before the calves are seen by the public.
The 24-hour care the calves received at the Alaska
SeaLife Center continues in their new homes, fulfilling their nutritional and
social needs until they are introduced to their new companions. In Indianapolis, Patak will join longtime zoo
resident Aurora; Mitik will share the New York Aquarium’s exhibit with Kulu,
age 17, and Nuka, age 30.
Both calves were in poor health at the timke of their
rescue, but have steadily improved during their rehabilitation period. The calves currently weigh about 240 pounds,
and as adults they could weigh more than 1,500 pounds.
face environmental threats in their Arctic habitat. Because of the lack of
suitable ice, more and more Walruses are congregating on land. Overcrowding in
these areas may play a role in spreading disease among populations.
Photo Credits (top to bottom): Sybille Castro; Alaska SeaLife Center; Shauna Gallagher, Indianapolis Zoo; Indianapolis Zoo
Two weeks ago we brought you the touching story of an orphaned Pacific Walrus calf rescued, cared for and comforted at Alaska SeaLife Center. Today we check back-in on the 275 lb. toddler and see he is making good progress and enjoying playtime in his pool. This calf also marks the first patient in Alaska SeaLife Center's newest animal care area, the I.Sea.U critical care unit.
On June 8, the I.Sea.U was officially opened during World Oceans Day festivities as a nursery for stranded Sea Otters. Since no live Sea Otters were admitted to the stranding program this summer, the I.Sea.U remained unoccupied until now. “We prepared first for our most common species requiring intensive care, the Northern Sea Otter. Readying the space to house walrus had been planned for Phase 2 this coming winter, but we’ve gotten there more quickly with this pressing need,” said Brett Long, the Center’s husbandry director. The new unit will also have dedicated staff support and is physically separated from the other established stranding areas of the building.
Great video of the Pacific Walrus calf rocking out in his pool
The unit was made possible through the generous donations from Barbara Weinig, the MK LeLash Foundation, ConocoPhillips, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, and the Minnesota Zoo. The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only permanent marine rehabilitation center in Alaska responding to stranded marine mammals. The Center responded to four stranded walrus calves between 2003 and 2007, but this year’s calves are the first walrus admitted in the last five years.
Once a stranded marine mammal is admitted to the ASLC, it receives care from an experienced and dedicated veterinary and animal care staff. The Alaska SeaLife Center operates a 24-hour hotline for the public to report stranded marine mammals or birds, and encourages people who have found a stranded or sick marine animal to avoid touching or approaching the animal; instead, those individuals should call 1-888-774- SEAL (7325).
This past Saturday, local fisherman spotted an orphan Pacific Walrus calf on floating ice near Barrow, Alaska. After a period of observation from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a rescue was approved and Alaska SeaLife Center staff and a local veterinarian prepared the 200lb. baby for airlift to Anchorage and transport by modified truck to ASLC in Seward.
The calf is suckling readily from a bottle, feeding every three hours around the clock, and consuming nearly 1,400 calories at each feed. He is actively seeking attention from care-givers, and vocalizing when left alone. “Walrus are incredibly tactile, social animals,” said Stranding Coordinator Tim Lebling. “Walrus calves typically spend about two years with their mothers, so we have to step in to provide that substitute care and companionship.” Walrus calves almost immediately habituate to human care and therefore are not candidates for release following rehabilitation.
The video below is one of the most touching ZooBorns has had the privilige to share
The calf appears to be in good condition; however, Center veterinarians have identified and are addressing some health concerns while performing additional diagnostic testing to better understand his condition. If you would like to contribute to this calf's care, you can do so here.
Four accredited U.S. aquariums have come together in an effort to save a newborn Beluga whale calf which was found stranded in South Naknek, Alaska last week - this is the first time in history that a live calf has been found and rescued in U.S. waters. Marine mammal experts with a combined 125 years of experience from Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium immediately answered the Alaska SeaLife Center’s call for assistance to provide around-the-clock care for the calf during this rehabilitation period. The male, 112-pound calf is touch-and-go at this point and considered in critical condition – especially due to his immature immune system, and remains under 24-hour observation.
This is a great example of how the aquarium community comes together to work collaboratively in order do what’s best for an animal in need.
Photo credits 1 and 2 and video: Alaska SeaLife Center. Photo 3: Provided by Shedd Aquarium featuring SeaWorld's Bill Winhall and Shedd Aquarium's Lisa Takaki
Meet Olympia. On May 2nd, this young Harbor Seal was found stranded in Haines, AK. Haines Animal Rescue Center quickly got authorization to rescue her after searching the area for other seals. Olympia then made a last minute flight to Juneau where veterinarian Rachael Berngartt, D.V.M. stabilized her for further transport to Alaska Sealife Center.
Olympia has a white lanugo coat, an indication that she was born prematurely. Tim Lebling, ASLC Stranding Coordinator, stated, “It is likely that Olympia was abandoned by her mother, as we commonly find that seals abandon their premature pups.” Olympia is currently in “good but guarded” condition, and will be cared for until she can be released back into the wild. She ASLC's first stranded Seal in 2012.
Photo and Video Credits: Alaska SeaLife Center
Olympia is currently being fed five times a day with a milk matrix created specifically for harbor seals that contains all of the nutrients and calories she needs to grow.
Read more about Olympia and see more pictures beneath the fold...
Back in March we brought you the story of a young Sea Otter rescued by the residents of Port Heiden, Alaska. Discovered alone on the beach next to his deceased mother, the pup was cared for overnight by concerned citizens, then flown to the Alaska SeaLife Center. One month and one FedEx plane ride later, the pup begins a new life at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and will go on exhibit next Friday, April 27th. FedEx specializes in transporting animals between zoological institutions safely and comfortably.
Above photo credits: Alaska SeaLife Center
The next milestone for the little pup will be to acclimate to his new environment in Pittsburgh, begin eating solid food, respond to keeper’s cues which will teach him cooperative and husbandry behaviors. These behaviors will allow him to participate in his own care such as voluntary weigh-ins, and presentation of paws and flippers. He will develop his natural instincts as he grows and when he is bigger will be slowly introduced to Alki and Chugach, the Zoo’s current sea otter residents.
Sea Otter pup arriving in Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo.