In this undated photo, staff from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska, feed Saktuliq, a bearded seal pup that was rescued on April 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Rossman/Alaska SeaLife Center)

In this undated photo, staff from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska, feed Saktuliq, a bearded seal pup that was rescued on April 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Rossman/Alaska SeaLife Center)

Bearded seal pup at SeaLife Center gets a name

Children who took the initiative to protect the seal were asked to choose the name

A bearded seal pup that has been recovering at the Alaska SeaLife Center is out of quarantine and has officially been given a name: Saktuliq.

Saktuliq was found on the shores of the village of Shaktoolik in early April and was brought to the SeaLife Center on April 13. A few local school children had taken it upon themselves to protect Saktuliq from being harassed by people or pets before she was eventually transported to Seward, according to a May 9 press release. Bearded seals are a species of ice seal that are hunted for subsistence purposes in many northern villages of Alaska.

In honor of the children who took the initiative to protect the seal, the staff at the SeaLife Center requested that those same students give the seal her name. The students decided on Saktuliq, which is the Inupiaq spelling of Shaktoolik and translates to “scattered things.”

“Our village is one of the oldest villages in Alaska and is quite historical,” Shaktoolik Elementary teacher Ethel Fuller said in a May 28 press release. “Naming this seal Saktuliq will help honor our home and community.”

Saktuliq arrived at the SeaLife Center severely underweight, but according to the press release her condition has improved significantly. Saktuliq has nearly tripled her weight from 23 kilograms to 68 kilograms since arriving at the center. Saktuliq is now visible in the Center’s I.Sea.U critical care unit.

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