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The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arctic Returns Home!

Arctic, the Steller sea lion pup rescued by the Center last summer, has been released back into the wild!

Last summer Arctic was found only days old, malnourished and abandoned by her mother. Umbilical cord still attached, she was brought to The Marine Mammal Center where she was treated for malnourishment and taught the necessities of being a sea lion (tracking and catching fish, socializing with other sea lions, etc.) Due to their high intelligent levels, sea lions are highly susceptible to habituation. Because of this, Arctic remained in a quarantined area separate from humans in hopes that she will perceive humans as "intruders" to her environment.

The day before her release, black hair dye was used to mark her (which she will eventually molt off), and she was fitted with a satellite tracking device for TMMC to gain valuable information about her whereabouts and dive depths (to make sure she is foraging for food). She weighed in at 91 kgs (200 lbs)…a big difference from the 19 kgs (43 lbs) she came to TMMC as!

At her release, TMMC stranding team members reported that she was exploring the island, all rocks and crevices. She ventured down to the water where she stuck her head in a couple of times and dove in! She began playing with a yearling elephant seal and she was also seen trying to eat something in the water. So it seems her initial experience back on the island was a great one!

Steller sea lion pups are especially rare patients of TMMC, due to the distant locations of their breeding grounds. Arctic was a special patient here at TMMC because the Steller sea lion population has dropped by 80% in the last 30 years and is now classified as a threatened species.

1 comment:

jay baker said...

Does anyone at Marine Mammal Center have any info/photos of the Caribbean Monk Seal which is now considered to be extinct, last siting reported in 1950's. I came upon a group of seal lions several years ago in the Gulf of Mexico and think it may be possible it was a group of Caribbean Monk Seals. Any info would be great.