The Alaska SeaLife Center has admitted its first animal rescue for the year: a baby sea otter, now approximately three weeks old. The three-pound pup is now under 24-hour care and being fed once every two hours, according to a press release from the Seward-based aquarium and marine mammal rehab facility.
The female pup was found alone in Kachemak Bay by fishermen in early April. Transported to Seward by volunteers, it arrived at the SeaLife Center on April 9. The pup was apparently extremely young: its umbilical cord was still attached. Staff estimated that she was only a day old.
“About ten percent of the sea otters admitted to the Center are younger than a week old,” said Director of Animal Health Dr. Carrie Goertz in the press release. “But only a few are about a day old.”
The SeaLife Center depends on volunteers and concerned witnesses to receive and respond to stranded animal calls. But the center also emphasized that those who see a potentially stranded animal do best by calling it in, rather than attempting to lend immediate assistance.
“When an animal is in distress, the first reaction is often to tend to it,” the press release reads. “This can be a mistake as it is often difficult to distinguish distress from normal behavior. Sea otters leave their young in what they perceive to be a safe place while they forage for food. If people or pets are nearby when they return they are likely to abandon their young.”
The SeaLife Center maintains a 24-hour stranding hotline at (888) 774-SEAL.