A very young bearded seal pup found alone on the shores of Shaktoolik in early April is now under the care of the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, where she is being fed by bottle a special formula created just for her.
The as yet unnamed pup was admitted into the ASLC’s wildlife response program on April 13 after being transported from the village via Ravn Air to Seward, with permission from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
She weighed in at just 55.5 pounds, but by May her weight had increased to 85.5 pounds.
The pup was seen on the shores of Shaktoolik by local residents and a few school children living there took it upon themselves to ensure the pup wasn’t harassed by people or pets, ASLC officials said. Ice seals are hunted for subsistence purposes in this area, but since the children became attached to this pup, the village decided to call ASLC for help.
“The pup was extremely underweight, but caution was required, since feeding too much fat to a starving animal too quickly can be harmful,” said the center’s wildlife response curator, Jane Belovara. The pup’s special formula was created taking elements from walrus, harbor seal and fish gruel formulas.
Staff are now working to increase her blubber layer through regular feedings every four hours.
The last time ASLC took in a bearded seal in distress was 2002.