The Alaska SeaLife Center will hold the 21st annual Wildlife Rescue Run on Aug. 3 this year to raise money for the Seward-based aquarium’s marine animal rehabilitation program, which responds to stranded animals found throughout Alaska.
The program has had a busy year already with over two hundred calls which resulted in the admission of 12 patients. The Center is currently caring for one sea otter pup, one bearded seal, one spotted seal and five harbor seals.
“It’s a big year for us,” said Wildlife Response Curator Jane Belovarac in an interview at the aquarium. “We’ve gone a couple of years with pretty low numbers of seals and high numbers of otters. One year we basically had one of everything: we had a beluga, we had a walrus, we had a fur seal.
“You never know. All it takes is a phone call and our world is rocked. I can’t say we ever have a typical year.”
SeaLife Center Chief Executive Officer Tara Riemer said in a press release that donations and fundraising are critical to the Center’s efforts to care for stranded animals.
“Wildlife response is a key component of our mission work,” Riemer said. “While rewarding, it is also very intense, requiring 24-hour care from teams of dedicated staff. The Wildlife Rescue Run is an opportunity for the public to become part of the team by running and supporting our mission work.”
The wildlife response program takes calls about stranded, injured or dead marine wildlife throughout the state. Many admissions are young marine mammals, which in some cases require round-the-clock care.
Very young sea otter pups, for instance, receive frequent bottle feedings on a regular schedule as staff begin introducing solid foods. The three-month-old female pup Tazlina, currently in the Center’s I.Sea.U. received a mix of liquid and solid foods at a recent feeding and has tripled her weight since she arrived in April.
“She went from being an otter infant to being an otter teenager,” Belovarac said.
“She definitely has sass like an otter teenager,” added Lisa Szotek, an otter specialist from the Vancouver Aquarium who is helping care for Tazlina.
The 5k run follows a generally flat course along the Seward waterfront. Registration is $35 through Aug. 2 and $40 on the day of the race. The Center will also be accepting donations of supplies from its donation wish list, available at the Center’s website.
Some of the solicited items include Pyrex measuring cups, plastic pet kennels, bath and hand towels, fish totes, handled scrub brushes and cake pans.