Alaska’s Little Orphan Otter Now Calls Vancouver Home

Photo courtesy of the Alaska SeaLife Center.

Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium.

An Alaska sea otter pup has a new home at the Vancouver Aquarium. The yet-to-be named pup was found stranded on a road in Homer last October. Only 8 weeks old at the time, the pup needed intensive 24/7 care.

A crew of volunteers were unable to locate the pup’s mother, leading U.S. Fish and Wildife to authorize the rescue of the pup.

Dr. Tara Riemer Jones is the President of the Alaska SeaLife Center where the pup was rehabilitated:

“We had this otter for almost 6 months. For part of this time, staff at the Vancouver aquarium were invited up to help us care for this otter. For the most of the winter we had a couple staff members from the Vancouver Aquarium in Seward helping us with round the clock care. So for 6 months we had someone 24/7 with this otter making sure that it was eating properly and that it had everything that it needed.”

Jones says that otters aren’t a common patient for the center. Some years there have been 3 or 4 and other years there won’t be any at all. Since sea otters can give birth year round, pups can strand at any time.

“With some other animals that we respond to, like harbor seals we tend to get about 10 or 12 every summer that generally come in late May or early June and those are a little more like clockwork. But most of the other animals that we respond to is a little more random and we just don’t know what we’re going to get until we get the phone call.”

Jones says that the rescue and rehabilitation program for otters doesn’t receive any federal funds and is entirely supported by donations.

“We’re always looking for contributions to this program. It takes a lot of effort to raise a sea otter. They eat an awful lot. They eat a large portion of their bodyweight every day in food. And they eat very expensive food—shellfish. We very much thank the Vancouver Aquarium for providing staff time during the time that the animal was here”

The female otter was transferred to the Vancouver Aquarium last Friday where she now lives with a couple of other SeaLife Center alums, Tanu and Elfin.

“We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to the Alaska SeaLife Center and its I.Sea.U care team for their gracious hospitality over the past few months—it was a valuable learning opportunity to be able to exchange knowledge and best practices on animal care with their esteemed team,” says Brian Sheehan, Vancouver Aquarium curator of marine mammals in a press release.

The Vancouver Aquarium is having a Twitter Contest for naming the new pup by choosing one of three names chosen by the Ocean Sciences Club. The club—made up of middle school students from Seward—picked Susitna, Katmai and Glacier as options.

People can vote on a name by following @vancouveraqua and tweeting their vote using #otterlove. Tweet your vote by March 31 to be counted.