A SeaLife Alaska Center volunteer responds to a report of a sick female otter and pup stranding. The volunteers were able to save the pup, but the mother was too sick to save.

A SeaLife Alaska Center volunteer responds to a report of a sick female otter and pup stranding. The volunteers were able to save the pup, but the mother was too sick to save.

Scientists ask for public help with sick otters in Alaska

  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 4:52pm
  • News

HOMER, Alaska (AP) — Scientists are turning to the public for help dealing with sick and dead otters in Alaska.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they have recently received about 200 reports of sick or dead sea otters in the Kachemak Bay region.

“We’re finding otters all over the Homer area,” said Marc Webber of Homer. “They’re found from outer Bishop’s Beach all the way around the spit on both sides and around the shores of Mud Bay, so pretty wide spread.”

Webber, Deputy Refuge Manager for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and a group of trained volunteers try to keep people away from sick otters and get a veterinarian to euthanize the animals if necessary.

Some of the otters are turning with neurological conditions that cause them to twitch, said Webber.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward and running tests to find out what’s hurting the animals. They expect results in the next few weeks.

They dying otters could be an indicator that something is wrong with the entire ecosystem, according to Webber.

The Alaska Sea Life Center has been tracking a streptococcus illness in Kachemak Bay otters for a while now, but what’s happened since August is something new, said veterinarian Cari Goertz.

“This summer started off fairly typical with … a few otter carcasses being found every week,” said Goertz.

“However, as the summer went on into August and September we were getting up over 20 carcasses or moribund animals each week.”

“And it’s in those animals that we’ve seen different presentations,” she added.

Goertz said she’s been noticing more animals that had been generally healthy but died suddenly.

“Something is hitting them harder and faster, in addition to the disease that we’re familiar with seeing, something else seems to be involved,” Webber said. “That’s just speculation, we don’t have any evidence yet, but that’s what we’re seeing on the beach.”

More in News

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Joel Caldwell shows off the new Tecnam Traveller on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Aviation has since added two more Tecnam Travellers to its fleet. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Aviation adds 3rd plane to commuter service, readies for busy summer schedule

Kenai Aviation plans to increase its schedule to include 18 flights a day running seven days a week

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Kelley Cizek, right, speaks as Jason Tauriainen, Patti Truesdell and Penny Vadla listen during a special meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s school board in Soldotna on Monday.
‘They deserve better than this’

School board passes budget with broad swath of cuts, including pools, theaters and some support staff

The Alaska State Capitol on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska House passes budget with roughly $2,275 payments to residents, bill goes to Senate

The bill also includes a roughly $175 million, one-time increase in aid to school districts that would be paid according to a funding formula

The Kenai River flows near Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The Riverfront Redevelopment project will impact much of Soldotna’s riverside areas downstream to the bridge. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna riverfront redevelopment planning moves forward

Soldotna City Council on Monday unanimously approved the creation of a project manager to shepherd the Riverfront Redevelopment Project

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Corey Cannon, who plays baseball as part of Soldotna Little League, speaks to the Soldotna City Council during their meeting in Soldotna on Wednesday.
Soldotna Little League receives donation for facility repairs

The city owns the fields, but the Little League leases the land and is responsible for the maintenance of the facilities

Most Read