Alaska SeaLife Center Mammalogist Shelby Burman participates in a training session with Mist the Steller sea lion at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Jan. 19, 2023. Mist passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 23 after ASLC animal care staff observed seizure-like tremors. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)

Alaska SeaLife Center Mammalogist Shelby Burman participates in a training session with Mist the Steller sea lion at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Jan. 19, 2023. Mist passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 23 after ASLC animal care staff observed seizure-like tremors. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)

Young sea lion dies unexpectedly at SeaLife Center

Mist, who was approximately 2-and-a-half years old, had been socializing with three other Steller sea lions

Mist, a Steller sea lion at Alaska SeaLife Center, passed away unexpectedly Jan. 23, following seizure-like tremors.

The center announced her death in a release Monday, saying that the cause of death was unclear, even following a necropsy.

Mist, who was approximately 2-and-a-half years old, had been socializing with three other Steller sea lions at the center. The release explained that sea lion groupings are often changed to “mimic natural and social behaviors in the wild.”

Mist had been successfully introduced to the group, and play and behavior was viewed as normal by staff. The tremors reportedly came on suddenly, “and seemed unprompted.”

The release said that as a result of close monitoring because of the new group setting, a mammalogist noticed and responded immediately. The other sea lions were shifted to another habitat.

“Though these staff arrived within minutes, Mist had unfortunately already become unresponsive,” the release said.

As part of the necropsy, tissue samples were collected to be analyzed, but the release said that it may be several weeks before results are received, and that they may fail to reveal a cause of death.

The release said that Mist was born in June of 2020 to two sea lions within the center, Mara and Pilot. She was the first successful pup borne by Mara, and the fifth successful birth of a Steller sea lion in center history.

“Mist was an animal who touched you immediately with her playful, clever, gregarious personality, and she was quickly a favorite for staff and guests alike. She was a bubbling force of energy and inquisitiveness with a nearly unrivaled level of potential, possessing a balance of intelligence, patience, and cleverness that was uniquely amazing to behold in one individual,” said Michelle Hanenburg, SeaLife mammal curator, in the release.

According to the release, the Alaska SeaLife Center is one of only three aquariums in North America that house Steller sea lions.

For more information about the Alaska SeaLife Center, visit alaskasealife.org.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Alaska SeaLife Center Seasonal Animal Care Specialist Emma Begalka interacts with Mist the Steller sea lion in the Underwater viewing area at the Alaska SeaLife Center during an enrichment session on Nov. 30, 2022. Mist unexpectedly passed away on January 23, 2023 after staff observed seizure-like tremors. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)

Alaska SeaLife Center Seasonal Animal Care Specialist Emma Begalka interacts with Mist the Steller sea lion in the Underwater viewing area at the Alaska SeaLife Center during an enrichment session on Nov. 30, 2022. Mist unexpectedly passed away on January 23, 2023 after staff observed seizure-like tremors. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)

More in News

Amandine Testu. Photo courtesy of Delta Wind
Missing hiker in Kachemak Bay State Park found

Park rangers reported Amandine Testu as ‘overdue’ Wednesday morning

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Incumbents show lead in fundraising for state offices

Candidate spending is detailed in disclosure forms due Monday

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchorage man dies after being found floating in Kenai River

The man had been fishing in the area with friends, according to troopers

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point woman dead after ATV rollover

Troopers were called around 9 p.m. on July 16 and told of a rollover on Anchor River Road

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Kenai man dead after weekend collision

The crash took place at the intersection of Treasure Chest Street and the Kenai Spur Highway

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Most Read