The Alaska Sealife Center in Seward is the recipient of nearly $300,000 in federal grants, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced.
It was among 15 conservation organizations and state agencies awarded funds through the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a news release. The program provides financial assistance to eligible participants for the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of marine mammals. Species covered under this grant program include West Indian manatees, sea otters, Pacific walruses and polar bears.
“This new grant program is especially important for the Alaska SeaLife Center because we are the only facility in Alaska equipped to accept live stranded northern sea otters and walruses,” said Dr. Tara Riemer, President and CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center in the news release. “Maintaining the specialized veterinary and animal care staff to adequately respond to stranding events for over 6,000 miles of Alaska coastline is extremely expensive. This funding will enable us to continue to maintain proficiency and be the front line for otters and walruses, whether stranded for natural or human-caused reasons.”
The Sealife Center was specifically awarded $98,906 for a project titled “Correlations Between Pathogen Presence, Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins, and Prey Selection in Apparently Healthy and Stranded Northern Sea Otters;” $99,991 for “Live Stranding Response and Monitoring of Northern Sea Otters and Walruses in Alaska;” and $99,855 for “Improving Response Capacity for Oiled Marine Mammals in Alaska through the Purchase of Needed Supplies and Equipment and Obtaining Resources to Improve on Existing Response Infrastructure.”
The center is not the only Alaska entity to receive funds. Alaska Department of Fish and Game will receive $100,00 for a project titled “Disturbance and Moralities of Pacific Walruses in Bristol Bay;” and North Slope Borough will receive $71,591 for “Walrus Disease and Mortality Assessment.”