Part 4: Seattle Aquarium assists with Hardy, the rescued sea otter

Guest post by Seattle Aquarium animal care technician Kelli Lee

At 10 weeks old, Hardy, the rescued sea otter pup at Vancouver Aquarium, weighs 18.7 pounds (8.48 kg). He’s experienced many milestones over the past week. His surf clam now includes more of the entire clam, which he is eating like a champ. He is also feeding in the water with his body parallel to the habitat deck. This body position while feeding, called “stationing,” is the first step to training. He is being rewarded with lots of tasty treats while stationed in this position. Like the sea otters at the Seattle Aquarium, Hardy will eventually participate in voluntary training sessions.

Hardy is stationing for feeding in the main sea otter habitat.

During the day, he has progressed to spending all his time in the main sea otter habitat, where all his feeding and grooming is taking place. With very little assisted grooming from his caretakers, he spends most of his time grooming himself in the water or on the exhibit deck. He also occupies himself by playing with enrichment toys. At night, he is provided access to both his sleeping crib and the main habitat, but soon he will graduate from his crib and spend day and night  in the main habitat—just like a big sea otter! Stay tuned for the next Hardy update!

Hardy in the main sea otter habitat.

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Part 3: Seattle Aquarium assists with Hardy, the rescued sea otter

Guest post by Seattle Aquarium Biologist Caroline Hempstead

It is now the fourth week of the Seattle Aquarium staff providing animal care assistance to Hardy, a rescued sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium. He is growing stronger and bigger and becoming more independent every day. He now weighs 17.9 pounds (8.15 kgs) and spends most of his day exploring one of the main sea otter habitats in the public space. He is able to hold his breath for almost a minute, which allows him to explore the bottom of the pool with his sensitive paws and whiskers.


Hardy’s diet consists of surf clam and squid along with his sea otter pup formula, which he receives from a bottle six times a day. Hardy has been reaching his goal of eating 25 percent of his body mass each day, which is what sea otters, on average, need to eat to stay healthy and strong. For enrichment, Hardy loves to eat and play with ice cubes as well as play with an array of sea otter enrichment toys.

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Know your beach: end-of-season report

#6 in the 2017 series of guest blog posts by Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists Bobby Arispe and Jen Strongin.

Wow. I cannot believe our beach season is over already! It feels like we just got started. Thank you to everyone who came out to visit and explore the beach with us—it was a blast.

I’m always amazed, as I look back over my photos at the end of each summer, how the highlights change from year to year. 2016 was definitely the year of the octopus. I think I will always remember this year, 2017, as the year of the fish. We had the exciting event of herring spawning on South Alki beach and tide pools teeming with juvenile fish of all sorts, including flatfish, gunnels, sand lances, sculpins and even salmon. Some of my other favorite sightings this year include ten-tentacle anemones (ten tens!), gumboot chitons, California sea cucumbers, so many shrimp, a few sunflower stars (glad to see them around) and the cutest baby octopus.

Join me on a visual tour down memory lane of another great beach season:

Herring! Really, this was THE highlight of the summer. Here is the first visit to see the eggs:

Here is the next visit, the following week. You can see not only the eyes developing, but the tail is also starting to poke out of the egg!

Fish spotting in the tide pools on Constellation Beach was bananas this year! More juvenile flatfish than I have ever seen before.

More eggs of various kinds.

There was a major skeleton shrimp party early in the season during our lowest tide on Constellation Beach.

Lots of moon snail sightings

California sea cucumber

Ten-tentacle anemone

Sunflower star

Great blue heron foraging at low tide

Red rock crab eating a kelp crab

Baby octopus

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I hope to see some of you at our night-time low tide walks this coming winter. Until then, I will be dreaming of tide pools…

About Jen:

Jen writes:

“I ventured westward from Albany, NY and fell madly in love with our city from the moment I arrived. It was 21 years ago this August when Seattle first charmed me with its lush, forested parks, beautiful beaches, and water and mountain views (when the skies are clear enough) all around.

I spent the first half of my 21 years here immersed in Seattle’s wonderful coffee culture. My husband and I owned and operated Victrola Coffee on Capitol Hill until 2008. We sold our business that year to spend more time with our newborn son and I have been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama and budding photographer and naturalist ever since! It started with me taking my young son to the beach, gazing into tide pools and wanting to know more about what we were looking at. Soon, I was going to the beach by myself, every low tide I could, and following the Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists around asking questions. 🙂

I signed up to be an interpretive volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium in 2013, became a beach naturalist volunteer in 2014, and this will be my second year as an official member of the Seattle Aquarium staff as a beach captain. My favorite place to be is on the beach, with my camera, sharing my love and knowledge of our intertidal dwellers with the hope that I will inspire others to love and protect the Salish Sea and the ocean beyond.”

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Part 2: Seattle Aquarium assists with Hardy, the rescued sea otter

Guest post by Seattle Aquarium Laboratory Specialist Amy Green

Hardy, a rescued northern sea otter pup, is well on his way to recovery at the Vancouver Aquarium. This is the second week that Seattle Aquarium staff have traveled to Vancouver to assist in his 24-hour care. Hardy is spending lots of time napping, eating, grooming and playing! He is given lots of enrichment toys, and his favorite seems to be a long strip of purple “kelp” made of car wash material. On Wednesday he spent an hour wrestling, swimming and holding it before taking a long nap.

Hardy is fed every three hours and now weighs 14.3 pounds (6.48 kg). His diet primarily consists of sea otter pup formula, small pieces of surf clam and this week, he was introduced to small bits of squid! Hardy showed no hesitation and gulped down the squid as quickly as he chomps down the clam. To see footage, click this link to watch Hardy eat lunch.

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Seattle Aquarium assists with Hardy, the rescued sea otter

Hardy the sea otter pup. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium.

Guest post by Seattle Aquarium Animal Care Technician Aubrey Theiss

Meet Hardy, the newest rescued orphaned northern sea otter pup at the Vancouver Aquarium. He was rescued from northern Vancouver Island and is now receiving 24-hour care. The Seattle Aquarium is assisting the Vancouver Aquarium with the rehabilitation of this old pup, estimated to be seven to nine weeks old. Two to three days each week during August and September, a member of the Seattle Aquarium animal care staff will be traveling to the Vancouver Aquarium to offer our help.

A typical day in the life of a sea otter pup consists mainly of sleeping, swimming, eating and grooming. After waking up from his naps, which can last anywhere from five minutes to several hours, Hardy is picked up from his special sea otter crib and placed into a pool. Some sessions in the pool may be just for play time, but every few hours he needs to be fed.

At this age, Hardy’s primary food source is a sea otter pup formula offered from a bottle—however, he’s also starting to receive bits of surf clam which are delivered directly into his paws. After he’s done swimming, he’s brought to a nearby table where we use towels and brushes to assist him in grooming. This daily routine can be exhausting for a pup and once he is finished grooming, it’s usually time for another nap!

Hardy recently had a big day: Kristi Heffron, senior marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, took Hardy for his first swim in the main sea otter pool! The water level was lowered halfway and he swam to the window, where he visited with guests. The very next day the pool was filled all the way up and he began to dive! To see this footage, click this link and see Hardy on his big adventure.

Stay tuned for future updates about Hardy’s progress on our blog. Interested in learning more about sea otters? Come meet Adaa, Lootas, Aniak, Sekiu and Mishka at the Seattle Aquarium—and read our sea otter animal fact sheet!

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