Condition of rescued otter pup improves

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2001

A week ago, Elfin, the newborn male sea otter rescued in Gull Cove by fishermen on July 15, was fighting for his life in Seward. However, he seems to have turned the corner over the weekend.

Gull Cove, near Elfin Cove, is about 27 miles northwest of Hoonah.

"He was doing well at first," said Christine DeCourtney, external affairs director at the Alaska SeaLife Center where a special nursery has been set up for Elfin.

"But even though he was eating, he was losing weight and his respiration and heart rate slowed down last Sunday. So we put an intravenous line in his jugular and he started doing well again."

By Thursday, center veterinarians were able to remove the intravenous line, and Elfin seemed to be doing better Friday, she said. He is getting supplemental tube feeding.

"I got a call at 2 a.m. on the 22nd, and he looked really bad. But he made it through. His blood work didn't show any significant abnormalities, but he received antibiotics and fluids," said Natalie Noll, the center's rehabilitation coordinator and veterinarian.

"Now he's definitely more active and kind of playing a little, chewing on the blanket," Noll said. "He's not out of the woods, but he's progressing. Unfortunately sea otters are very sensitive, and by the time you figure out something is wrong and try to treat them, they die. But he's doing better, and our hopes are up."

This morning, DeCourtney said that Elfin had improved over the weekend.

"Everyone has fallen totally in love with him, which is, of course, against the rules. But part of his recovery is the constant touching (supplied round-the-clock by shifts of caretakers), so we're glad to know people are willing to be with him at 2 a.m.," she added.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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