Oiled Sea Otter Rehabilitation Course

Transportation to the Rehabilitation Center

When a dependent sea otter pup is orphaned or its fur heavily oiled, personnel on the capture boats or at the rehabilitation center must provide immediate care if it is to survive. Capture and transport should be accomplished calmly, quietly, and rapidly. Young pups are not strong swimmers and can be captured easily with a dip net. Care should be taken to prevent the pup from aspirating water during capture. Juvenile sea otters may elude capture with a dip net if they are healthy and unaffected by the oil (see Chapter 2).

A small pup should be transported by an animal care specialist who can monitor its body temperature and prevent hypothermia or hyperthermia. The hind flippers, which are normally cool, can be palpated for a general indication of hyperthermia; hypothermic pups are often lethargic or comatose. Even young pups are capable of biting and must be handled carefully. A blanket or towel can be used to restrain an active pup, but care must be taken to prevent overheating. Juvenile otters should be transported in kennel cages and monitored by an animal care specialist.