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marine mammals

USFWS

 

 

Dead and dying sea otters are being found along the Aleutian Islands and the Alaska Peninsula.

 

During an aerial survey in March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 56 dead otters from Cold Bay to Pilot Point.

 

Otters in Port Moller and Nelson Lagoon tested positive for streptococcus infection -- a common cause of sea otter mortality.

 

Melissa Good / Alaska Sea Grant

Unalaskans are used to spotting marine mammals around the island.

But lately, they're not just seeing whales or otters. They're seeing ringed seals — an Arctic species that typically lives far north of the ice-free Aleutian Islands.

Now, scientists are monitoring the unusual visitors to find out why they're here.  

Courtesy of Alaska SeaLife Center

After admitting a sick ringed seal from Unalaska, veterinarians at the Alaska SeaLife Center are cautiously optimistic about his chances for recovery.

The male seal was found earlier this month, lying on a rusty pipe on the beach.

In addition to being far outside his natural habitat, he was underweight, balding, and lethargic.

"Although this seal has a laundry list of health issues, his feisty demeanor shows promise," said Dr. Kathy Woodie of the SeaLife Center.

The seal is now receiving 24-hour care in Seward for dehydration, malnourishment, and parasites.

Carrie Goertz, Alaska SeaLife Center

Unalaska’s Sea Grant officers have rescued a northern fur seal pup found stranded on Front Beach. The pup has been sent to Seward’s Alaska Sealife Center for care because he was found far from his rookery and had little chance of survival on his own. He’s not the first pup Unalaska has rescued this year.

In March, the Sealife Center took in a yearling ringed seal from Unalaska. Normally found on the ice, she was out of her range and having trouble regulating her body temperature.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

 

On a sunny Tuesday night, about a dozen people are gathered on a dock. They’re practicing the skills needed to free a stranded whale.

Ed Lyman is up from Hawaii to lead the course. He has a lot of experience freeing entangled whales. He’s in town for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — working to build Unalaska’s response team.

“Here we are in Dutch Harbor, fishermen galore, capital of fishing, in many ways in the U.S.,” Lyman said. “So you have a lot of skill sets there already. But having to cut free a 40 ton whale is unique.”

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