Rescued Sea Otter Finds a Home

A rescued and rehabilitated sea otter has been transferred from the Alaska SeaLife Center to its new permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium.

After efforts to locate her mother were unsuccessful, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the pup’s rescue on October 19, 2012. The orphaned, female sea otter pup was rescued off the side of a road by Alaska SeaLife Center volunteers, and 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. Once the pup was stabilized and its care regime established, the Alaska SeaLife Center invited Vancouver Aquarium’s animal care team to help provide intensive, around-the-clock care for the otter—a collaboration that helps to expand rescue and rehabilitation expertise across North American teams.

Sealife Center Otter

“Over the past 17 weeks, our team has rotated shifts—flying to and from Alaska to help share our expertise and care for the pup—and spent many long hours providing around-the-clock, rehabilitative care. We’ve already established a special bond with her and are
so pleased to welcome her to her new home at the Aquarium,” says Brian Sheehan, Vancouver Aquarium curator of marine mammals.

Her transfer to the Vancouver Aquarium will allow the pup to receive the ongoing care and companionship she needs. According to Brett Long, Alaska SeaLife Center husbandry director, “Getting this otter pup to her new home would not have been possible without two key partnerships – with the Vancouver Aquarium in day-to-day care over the past few months, and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who facilitated the permits required for the international transfer.”

Described as playful, and sometimes mischievous, the sea otter has adjusted well to her new home and will soon be introduced to Tanu and Elfin, also found stranded as pups and rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center in years past. Vancouver Aquarium has been one of the leading facilities in North America to work with rescued sea otters, as its participation in the rescue, rehabilitation, breeding, care and expertise is recognized by peers around the world.

Like Tanu and Elfin, this pup will also be tagged with an Alaskan moniker. Local students from the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Ocean Sciences Club provided three possible names for the sea otter: Susitna, Katmai and Glacier. The final choice will be made through a voting contest held by the Vancouver Aquarium.