Oregon Coast Aquarium Adopts Stranded Sea Otter Pup

March 24, 2014

Newport, Oregon—Staff at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are delighted to announce that there will be an adorable new addition in the Sea Otter Exhibit this spring.

A northern sea otter pup, Enhydra lutris kenyonim, was discovered alone on a beach in Kodiak, Alaska early last summer. Sea otter pups are helpless when they are born and require constant attention from their mothers. These baby marine mammals do not even know how to swim, let alone groom the dense fur that keeps them warm and buoyant; their mothers must tend to these needs until they learn to do it on their own.

The six to eight week old pup appeared thin and his coat was in rough condition when he was first spotted. Something was clearly amiss and following lengthy observation and a call to the local authorities, a veterinarian collected the pup and sent him to the Alaska SeaLife Center for rehabilitation.

The SeaLife Center staff worked tirelessly for months to rehabilitate the tiny pup and teach him how to be a sea otter in his absent mother’s stead. In time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that Nuka was not a qualified candidate for release back into the wild and started to search for a long-term home. The Oregon Coast Aquarium had space for another male sea otter and was happy to add him to its raft, or sea otter family.

Nuka, which means “little brother” in Inuit, made the trip from Alaska to Oregon without a hitch and just completed the 30-day health quarantine process. The young otter still needs to cross some training milestones before he meets the other members of the Aquarium’s all-male raft and makes his big debut on exhibit.

Nuka will not be on exhibit for Oregon’s spring break, but visitors can take a sneak peek of the sea otter pup on a video screen in the Aquarium’s lobby.

The Aquarium advises anybody that sees a marine mammal in distress to call the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network at (541) 270-6830 and observe it from a distance.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so that the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. www.aquarium.org, (541) 867-3474. Follow us on Facebook.com/OregonCoastAquarium, or Twitter.com/OrCoastAquarium for the latest updates.

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Notice to the media: Photos are available here. Please credit photos taken at the Oregon Coast Aquarium to Brent McWhirter. Please credit photos taken at the Alaska SeaLife Center to the Alaska SeaLife Center.