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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

January 31, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Sea otter pup milestones: first swim, grooming, clams

Aniak’s pup, the new baby sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium, is thriving. The pup has nearly doubled her weight to 6.3 pounds from her birth weight of 3.4 pounds on Jan. 17. The pup also has over the past several days begun some self grooming of her rear flippers and face using her front paws.

Aniak's pup 31 Jan 029.jpg

Aniak and her pup, cuddling this morning. Photo by CJ Casson, courtesy, Seattle Aquarium

She also is actively swimming, snorkeling on the surface with her face in the water or above it. She can’t yet dive, though, because her natal pelage — that lovely fluff all over her body — still makes her float like a cork.

Like her mother, the pup is a clam fan. She took her first solid food Jan. 30: a piece of of clam meat that she took immediately, chewed for a few minutes, then swallowed. She downed about a half-inch piece.

Over the weekend she also started playing with floating toys– boomer balls, Frisbees and Kongs –the aquarium staff have put out for Aniak and Lootas, the other otter in the exhibit. She likes to push the toys around with her front paws and bite them.

The aquarium is hosting a naming contest, Details will be announced on Tuesday, February 7th. People can vote for their favorite otter pup name from a list of 5 or so online at the aquarium’s web site.

There also are more photos of the pup on the aquarium’s Facebook page.

According to the Seattle Aquarium:

Pups start to lose the natal fluff between 6-10 weeks and then begin to dive below the surface and swim to the bottom.

At 8 weeks they are usually diving, swimming and hauling out with ease.

By about 11 weeks they are pounding objects on their chest, biting open shell food, grooming and rolling over sideways.

By 14-20 weeks they can roll forward while grooming.

By 20-24 weeks they are grooming themselves just like an adult; at roughly 24 weeks they are weaned.

Did you know the Seattle Aquarium has an otter cam where you can watch Aniak swim around with her pup? Have a look.

Aniak is the otter who looks like she’s swimming around with a football on her chest … that’s the pup. The other otter is Lootas.

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