New photography by Nancy Cherry Eifert at Gallery Nine.
“It’s a girl!” The new baby otter born January 14th at the Seattle Aquarium became a month old on Valentine’s Day. In honor of the yet-unnamed baby, Nancy Cherry Eifert is showing her photos of the pup’s first weeks of life at Gallery 9 in Port Townsend. “Seattleites were hoping for a female because she will stay here in Seattle; had it been a male his destiny was another aquarium.”
“I first photographed the pup when she was only 8 days old, before they even knew her sex. I chatted with a few of the aquarium staff while watching Aniak groom and nurse her new baby. She held the pup on her belly, turning her over and over again to groom every inch of her little body, taking a break now and then to let her nurse. Occasionally Aniak would place the pup on the ‘curbing’ and then feed and groom herself. Aniak would also lay the pup next to her on the water, the natal pelage (fluffy pup fur) allowing her to float like a cork! At 6 weeks old she’ll begin shedding this fur and by 10 weeks her coat will look more like that of an adult. She’ll begin diving and eating solid food during this time.”
But, what’s special about the new pup? She was unexpected, an ‘accident.’ Surprised as I was to hear this I now understand. The aquarium isn’t set-up for ‘breeding’ but for the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals. In fact, Aniak was on birth control when she got pregnant. Yes, apparently it happens in the animal kingdom just as with us humans. So, not only was this little pup conceived on ‘birth control’ but her chance of living at birth was only 50%. Because sea otters are born underwater the pup must make it to the surface for it’s first breath… only half of all pups born make it there before taking a first breath. Two strikes against her – yet there she is, a very fluffy 4 lb. creature with the cutest button nose and eyes that are hard to see beneath all the downy fur.
Between now and February 24th the aquarium is hosting a contest to name the pup. The results will be announced Monday, February 27th.
The Seattle Aquarium has two web-cams for viewing the sea otters:
My photos will be on display through March. Gallery 9 is located at 1012 Water Street, Port Townsend.
Thanks for reading.
Nancy Cherry Eifert