In celebration of Sea Otter Awareness Week and our Spotlight on Sea Otters on now at the Vancouver Aquarium, we would like to introduce the sea otters at the Aquarium. Meet the four, charming, inspiring sea otters and learn about their rescue stories:

  1. Elfin: One of the two male sea otters, Elfin was found alone in the waters near Juneau, Alaska by fishermen in 2001. They observed Elfin in the water for several hours and hoped to locate his mother, as mother sea otters rarely leave newborn pups alone for extended periods of time. When his mother was not located, Elfin was brought to Seward’s Alaska SeaLife Center, and from there he was transferred to the Vancouver Aquarium where he received around-the-clock care. Elfin ”groomed” the staff’s fleece jackets, rubbing them between his paws and blowing air into them, as he would his own fur. Today, Elfin is thriving, and can be seen playing with a variety of enrichment toys in his habitat.

    Elfin, a sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium

    Elfin says hello to visitors at the Vancouver Aquarium.

  2. Tanu: In 2004, a boater found Tanu alone in the water near Sitka, Alaska. Tanu was only a week or two old when she was transported to the Alaska SeaLife Center where the team from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre flew in to assist with her care for over a month. Once she was stabilized, she was transported to the Vancouver Aquarium and given a permanent home as she was deemed non-releasable by government agencies. Our marine mammal trainers taught Tanu how to eat and groom and today Tanu loves breaking apart clams and crabs for a tasty meal several times a day.

    Baby sea otter Tanu, Vancouver Aquarium

    Tanu being bottle fed when she was just a baby. Today she is full grown and thriving.

  3. Katmai: Katmai was rescued on October 17, 2012 near a road on Homer Spit, Alaska. Just a pup when she was first admitted to the Alaska SeaLife Centre, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre staff travelled to Alaska on rotating teams for four months to help rehabilitate her. She was bottle-fed a formula of squid, clams, cod liver oil and multivitamin supplements. Once fit to travel, Katmai was moved to the Aquarium and introduced to Tanu who took became her companion.  Today, the two sea otters spend their days playing together, grooming and enjoying a healthy diet of clams, squid and sea urchins, among other seafood items.

    Sea otter week, Vancouver Aquarium

    Katmai works with trainer Kristi in her habitat.

  4. Walter aka “Wally”: One of our most famous rescue stories, Wally was found in distress on the shorelines of Tofino, Vancouver Island, on October 18, 2013. After contacting the proper authorities, Wally was moved to the Rescue Centre where 24-hour care began. X-rays revealed that Wally had birdshot pellets scattered throughout his body. Aside from being blinded, he also had broken teeth and one of his hind flippers had to be partially amputated. Due to his extensive injuries, Wally was deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and has now made a permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium. Our marine mammal trainers have adapted their training to help Wally adjust to his new surroundings, relying on his ability to hear and touch, rather than see.

    Wally, rescued sea otter, Vancouver Aquarium

    Wally recovering from surgery. Today guests can spot Wally in his new home at the Aquarium.

Want to learn more about sea otters? Check out 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Sea Otters, or ask us your questions during our live #seaotterchat on Thursday, September 25 at 10 am PST.

You can help to support Tanu, Katmai, Elfin and Wally by making a donation online today.

Be sure to stop by the Vancouver Aquarium this fall to catch one of our sea otter feeds, take home a sea otter craft and hear first-hand from our marine mammal trainers about these cute and curious marine mammals.

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