Oiled Sea Otter Rehabilitation Course


he stresses associated with oil contamination and subsequent rehabilitation may be exacerbated in pregnant otters. As a result, the rehabilitation team must be aware of the unique requirements associated with sedating, treating, housing, and feeding this group of animals. Maternal, placental, and fetal compartments are in close communication; thus, oil contamination and the rehabilitation process also may affect the developing fetus. Maternal transfer of petroleum hydrocarbons to the pup may continue after parturition in the form of contaminants transferred through milk.

Rehabilitators must decide whether to separate newborn pups shortly after birth, especially if additional toxic exposure is eminent from nursing. Pups can be successfully raised in nurseries, but are usually unsuited for release back to the wild. Each pup-mother pair must be evaluated individually depending on degree, type and time of oil exposure of the female, the availability of facilities and personnel for rehabilitation, and plans for eventual disposition of rehabilitated animals.