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Alaska SeaLife Center Introduces New Steller Sea Lions

Seward, AK – January 20, 2011 – The Alaska SeaLife Center is now home to two new female Steller sea lions, Eden from the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, and Tasu from the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia.  Both sea lions are the property of the Vancouver Aquarium.  The new sea lions are part of the ASLC sea lion breeding program which addresses several of the key recovery actions in the 2008 Steller Sea Lion Recovery Plan.  Steller Sea Lions are listed as an endangered species and are the objects of intense study and scientific debate in Alaska.

Eden and Tasu, both ten years old, grew up together as pups in Vancouver.  Eden was transferred to Mystic two and a half years ago.  “Eden has been a joy to work with over the past two years,” says Mystic Aquarium Supervisor of Pinnipeds and Penguins Laurie Macha. “We are extremely fortunate to have cared for Eden.  Although we will miss her, we are very excited with the progress that the Steller Sea Lion Consortium has made to support breeding and research,” adds Laurie.

Brett Long, ASLC Director of Husbandry, has been at the Mystic Aquarium spending time getting to know Eden.  Long, ASLC Veterinarian Dr. Carrie Goertz, and Kyle Hurst of the Mystic Aquarium were all present for the transport from Connecticut to Alaska.  Tasu’s transportation included bringing her and ASLC Mammal Coordinator Lisa Hartman, across the Canadian border by ground to Seattle where they and Dr. Marty Haulena, Veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, boarded a flight to reunite with Eden in Anchorage.  “We spent a lot of time preparing for the border crossing and everyone and everything went great.  Tasu is an amazing animal that will transition well into our program,” said Hartman.

“We are delighted by the support that both Mystic and Vancouver aquariums have provided to the Alaska SeaLife Center,” said Dr. Lori Polasek, the lead scientist for this program at the Center, who is also an Assistant Professor in the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  “They appreciate that the Alaska SeaLife Center has a strong track record of marine mammal research and that our facility is uniquely placed to be able to undertake this kind of program.”

During their 30-day quarantine, both sea lions will be visible to ASLC visitors from inside the Research Overlook.   Following that time both sea lions will be introduced to our current resident Steller sea lions, Woody and Sugar.

The Alaska SeaLife Center is a private non-profit research institution and visitor attraction which generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems.  For more information regarding the new Steller sea lions, or any other part of the Alaska SeaLife Center please reference the Alaska SeaLife Center website at www.alaskasealife.org.

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