Alaska SeaLife Center Avian Curator Kristen lets us watch a quick exam moments after this Steller's eider duckling hatches!
Alaska SeaLife Center
The ASLC (Alaska SeaLife Center) recently had seven Steller's eider ducklings hatch at the Center! Steller's eiders are endemic to Alaska and are rarely seen outside of Alaskan waters. These are the first Steller's eiders ducklings hatched at the Center since 2018, making this a very special moment for all!
The two pups were found abandoned on a beach in Kasilof, Alaska
Seward, Alaska (June 13, 2022)– The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) admitted two newborn harbor seal pups to the Wildlife Response Program on June 2, 2022.
The ASLC Wildlife Response team received a call on the 24-hour stranding hotline (1-888-774-7325) reporting an abandoned and skinny harbor pup seal on the beach in Kasilof, Alaska. Based on the female pup’s emaciated body condition, the team decided she needed immediate help. While the team was preparing to pick up this pup, the original caller from Kasilof spotted an additional seal pup on the beach, this one a male. This pup was also abandoned and in poor body condition. After receiving National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration approval, both pups were transported to the Alaska SeaLife Center for treatment.
Otters, seal pups, pufflings oh my! Here's everything cute Alaska SeaLife Center can possibly offer you to boost those serotonin levels.
The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only facility in Alaska that combines a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response.
While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the nonprofit Center is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state.
Poppy the otter pup has come a long way since she was admitted to Alaska SeaLife Center's Wildlife Response Program ❤️
The Alaska SeaLife Center is a non-profit institution that relies on your support to maintain its important ongoing scientific exploration. There are many ways to get involved. Your donations, sponsorship, membership and other contributions are greatly appreciated, and thank you for Supporting the Science!
Tell us which are your favorites in the comments!
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9. African lion - Dallas Zoo
8. Manatee - ZOO Wrocław
7. Sumatran Tiger - Zoo Wroclaw
6. Klipspringer - Brevard Zoo
5. Canada Lynx - Queens Zoo
4. Two-toed sloth - ZSL London Zoo
3. North American Sea Otter - Alaska SeaLife Center
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1. Orangutan - Budapest Zoo
The Alaska SeaLife Center had some recent hatches in their aviary. A Horned Puffling and two King Eider Ducklings emerged this summer.
The King Eider Ducklings are said to be growing fast. They are currently being fed bloodworms and a mixture of waterfowl feed. Keepers say they swim efficiently and love snuggling each other.
The Horned Puffling hatched to parents, Nemo and Clay. Staff members report that the little bird is doing well, but keepers are feeding it a supplement of sand eels, just to make sure it is getting enough food.
The Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) is an auk, similar in appearance to the Atlantic Puffin. It is a pelagic seabird that feeds primarily by diving for fish. It nests in colonies, often with other auks.
They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, the population of the species has declined due to the introduction of rats onto some islands used for nesting.
The King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) is a large sea duck that breeds along Northern Hemisphere Arctic coasts of northeast Europe, North America and Asia. The birds spend most of the year in coastal marine ecosystems at high latitudes, and migrate to Arctic tundra to breed in June and July.
Due to its large population and vast range, the King Eider is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Predators include: Glaucous Gull, Common Raven, Parasitic Jaeger and the Arctic Fox.
After being tended by their mother for almost a year, thousands of Giant Pacific Octopus eggs are beginning to hatch at the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC).
The eggs were laid by Gilligan, the ASLC’s eldest female Giant Pacific Octopus, beginning in May 2017. For the past year, Gilligan guarded her eggs, blew water over them, and groomed them to remove algae. About two weeks ago, aquarists noticed tiny Octopus babies – each about the size of a pea - floating in the tank.
The eggs are expected to hatch by the end of May, with about a hundred hatching so far. Each Octopus hatchling looks like a miniature adult, with all eight arms, sucker discs, and well-developed eyes. The babies swim by jet propulsion, just like adults.
As the babies rise to the surface of their tank, the staff collects them and places them in a rearing tank where they float and eat zooplankton.
Hatching and successfully rearing Giant Pacific Octopuses in an aquarium setting is extremely rare, with only one documented case of this species being reared to adulthood at the Seattle Aquarium in the 1980s. In the wild, the survival rate of hatchlings is about 1 percent. In an aquarium, the odds of survival are very low as the hatchlings are extremely delicate and have complex nutritional needs. This is ASLC’s third opportunity to raise Giant Pacific Octopus babies and staff remains hopeful as they begin rearing.
Giant Pacific Octopus mate only once in their three- to six-year lifespan. The male passes a spermatophore into the female’s mantle during mating. The female has up to 6 months to use it to fertilize her eggs. She then lays 20,000 to 80,000 eggs in long, braided strands that look like white, tear-shaped grape clusters. The process of laying the eggs can take about a month.
As for Gilligan, the hatching of her babies signals the end of her life. Because the female Octopus continuously guards her eggs for many months without hunting or feeding, she typically dies after her babies begin to hatch. Octopus hatchlings receive no maternal care, hence the low odds of survival to adulthood in the wild.
Giant Pacific Octopus are the largest of all Octopus species, with an adult weight of about 30 pounds and an arm span of about 14 feet. They feed on crabs, scallops, snails, clams, fish in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean to depths of 2,000 feet.
A stranded Beluga Whale calf, struggling to survive on its own, was rescued from Cook Inlet, Alaska on Saturday, September 30. The male calf is undergoing intensive around-the-clock care at the Alaska SeaLife Center with the help of Marine Mammal experts from around North America. The calf is a member of the critically endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whale population, which has declined to approximately 328 individuals left in the wild.
The solitary calf, estimated to be four weeks old, was spotted alone and distressed by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) Enforcement Officer and Department of Public Safety / Alaska Wildlife Troopers Pilot returning from a helicopter patrol. No adult Belugas were seen in the area. Under authorization from NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP), the NOAA enforcement officer and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers pilot attempted unsuccessfully to encourage the animal back in the water. NOAA helped coordinate the transport of an Alaska SeaLife Center veterinarian to the site to assess the animal's condition. A decision was made to transport the Beluga calf to Anchorage for subsequent transfer to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.
The calf is currently receiving treatment in the Alaska SeaLife Center’s I.Sea.U. “The calf appeared to have been stranded for several hours and was in a weakened condition; without evidence of major physical trauma. He is able to swim on his own and is breathing regularly, which are very positive signs. However, there are tremendous hurdles ahead. Because this animal is extremely young, there is a high risk of complications,” said Dr. Carrie Goertz, DVM, ASLC Director of Animal Health. With any cetacean [Whale or Dolphin] rescue, particularly with a neonatal calf, survival is estimated at less than 10 percent.
When a stranded animal arrives at the Alaska SeaLife Center, the first goal is to rehydrate the animal. Aminoplex is a formula that helps animals when they are in a severe state of dehydration. This is the first fluid the calf received upon arrival at the Center’s I.Sea.U. The calf was 64 inches long and weighed 142 pounds when it arrived at the Center.
The Beluga calf has graduated from drinking Aminoplex to a milk matrix with fish and antibiotics added. The calf actively suckles his formula, but the team is still determining the best way to deliver his meals. A bottle does not allow the calf to gain proper suction. They have found that the calf is able to suckle better from the tip of a wide tube inserted just inside his mouth. (This is not traditional “tube feeding,” in which food is delivered directly to the stomach via tube and the animal receives the food passively, without suckling.)
To best care for this endangered calf, Alaska SeaLife Center pulled together a team of first responders, which included on-site Marine Mammal experts with support from five North American aquariums with professional experience caring for Beluga Whales. Together, veterinarians and Marine Mammal experts at Alaska SeaLife Center, Georgia Aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld, and Mystic Aquarium bring decades of hands-on experience caring for, raising, studying and transferring vital knowledge about Beluga Whales, including this critically endangered population. Several of the institutions operate Marine Mammal rescue centers or animal response teams and are deployed when a cetacean requires intervention to give it the best chance at survival – considered even more important when working collaboratively to rehabilitate a member of a critically endangered population.
“As Alaska’s only Marine Mammal rescue and rehabilitation center, our team of experts are responsible for the care of a variety of critical wildlife response situations across the state. To be able to have our expert colleagues assist us with this critically endangered Beluga calf is a true testament to the Marine Mammal community’s commitment to caring for and preserving wild cetacean populations,” said Tara Riemer, President and CEO at the Alaska SeaLife Center. “To witness everyone come together for this very young calf is heartwarming as he is receiving the best 24-hour care from experts across North America.”
Found alone in frigid Alaskan waters last winter, two Sea Otter pups rescued as infants have found a permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.
Both pups were just a few weeks old when rescued – far too young to survive on their own. They were brought to Alaska SeaLife Center’s I.Sea.U where they each received 24-hour care.
The pups were deemed non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services because without their mothers, the pups never learned basic survival skills. Vancouver Aquarium was asked to provide a long-term home for the pups. Accompanied by animal care professionals, the pups departed Alaska last week for their new home in Vancouver.
The pups do not yet have names. Fans can help select their names by voting here through November 16.
“After being found without their mothers and unable to care for themselves, these animals have been given a second chance at life,” said Brian Sheehan, curator of marine mammals at Vancouver Aquarium. “The ongoing care for a Sea Otter takes a tremendous amount of resources, and that role will continue here as our marine mammal team helps them integrate into their new home.”
Now weighing a healthy 12 kilograms, the male Sea Otter pup has been maintaining a steady diet, eating about 2.5 kilograms daily of clams, capelin, and squid. At 10.9 kilograms, the female otter eats about 2.0 kilograms of the same seafood mix.
Sea Otters face a number of challenges in the wild. During its first six months a Sea Otter pup is highly dependent on its mother for food and, without her, is unable to survive. Much of the mother’s energy is dedicated to the pup and, as a result, her health may decline over the feeding period. Female Sea Otters give birth every year so if she determines that she has a better chance of rearing a pup the following year, due to environmental factors or availability of prey, then she may abandon the pup before it’s weaned. In adult life, Sea Otters continue to face numerous threats including disease, oil spills, predation, interactions with fisheries and overharvest.
Ninety per cent of the world’s Sea Otters live in Alaska’s coastal waters. Within the state of Alaska, the Southeast and Southcentral stocks are stable or are continuing to increase. The Southwestern stock is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after experiencing a sharp population decline over the last two decades, attributed to an increase in predation from transient Killer Whales.