Bearded seal pup nursed back to health after found abandoned in Alaska village

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska ice seals are often hunted by subsistence hunters in villages of northern Alaska. But one pup, after charming village school children, was transported to the SeaLife Center in Seward.

Bearded seal pup. Photo by ASLC.

The newborn bearded seal pup, just a week old, was admitted to the Wildlife Response Program, according to officials with ASLC.

The female pup was found on the shores of Shaktoolik by residents, and school children in the village decided to protect the pup from harassment from people or animals nearby.

"Ice seals are hunted for subsistence purposes in many northern villages of Alaska," ASLC wrote in a statement Thursday. "But since the children became attached to this particular animal, the village decided to call ASLC for help."

From there, the pup was transported to the center, and staff said the young seal was "extremely underweight." Staff are working to increase her blubber layer through regular feedings every four hours.

“When she first started swimming, staff had to assist her out of the water to ensure she didn’t get too cold,” said Husbandry Director, Lisa Hartman.

Bearded seals, along with ribbon, spotted, and ringed seals, are deemed "non-releasable" by National Marine Fisheries Service policy.

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