Alaska SeaLife Center news

Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2001

New octopus, new eggs

The female octopus, Kasitsna, which has been guarding eggs since last September in Denizens of the Deep, was removed along with the eggs last week to make way for Phoenix. Phoenix is a mature and active male octopus. Kasitsna's eggs were infertile and her maternal instincts to groom and guard them proved to be interesting and educational.

There is some interest among octopus experts in learning how long the animals can live. Unless their health declines radically, the center will continue to care for them.

Microhabitat changes

Several new sea creatures have made the spring scene in the microhabitat, soon to be renamed to reflect the closer look the visitors can take at the smaller creatures in local marine waters. The center has added heart crabs, new fish and more nudibranches and shuffled some animals to new tanks to better match the themes within.

Some of the tanks have been renovated to take advantage of the donation of bycatch, invertebrates and small fish, from the Linville Oyster Farm. The oyster farm, which consists of hanging lantern nets moored on floats on the east side of Eldorado Narrows opposite Fox Island, attracts a wide variety of small larval organisms that grow inside the nets until they become too large to get out.

Squid day is coming

Operation Squid Day will be held Saturday at the center. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and help dissect small squid with the help of the center's scientists and educators every half hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other events include special squid investigations, games and prizes all day long. The center also will unveil the new Pacific giant squid exhibit.

Rehab seals doing well

Sadie, the male ringed seal from Kotzebue, is no longer on formula. He has graduated to eating fish and swimming well. He is beginning to eat fish under water and will be moved to a bigger pool inside quarantine soon.

Pancho Villa, the male harbor seal from Kodiak, has been diagnosed with a mildly elongated soft palate. This is common in dogs, such as bulldogs and pugs, and it can interfere with normal respiration. Pancho's condition is mild to moderate and his is able to function fairly normal. Surgical treatment is indicated in severe cases, so at this point, he will continue to be monitored.

New exhibit debuts

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: The Continuing Legacy opened recently in the Underwater Viewing area of the Alaska SeaLife Center. The interactive exhibit, funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, features a mural depicting animals affected by the spill, along with audio wands that visitors can use to hear the latest information on each species' recovery.

Program manager wins award

Don Calkins, the center's Steller sea lion program manager, was awarded the Antarctic Service Medal in recognition of valuable contributions to exploration and scientific achievement under the U.S. Antarctic research program. This was awarded by the National Science Foundation under an act of Congress establishing the medal.

The award was for Calkins' participation in a National Science Foundation-sponsored research project studying behavior of Waddell seals in Curd Sound, Antarctica, in October and November of 1999. Calkins will return to Antarctica for continuation of this project in November and December of this year.

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