23 July, 1998

Myrtle Brijbasi

TEA/Alaska - 98

Journal Entry 14 - July 23, 1998

Alaska SeaLife Center, Ak

Who predicted correctly about the otter's behaviors and the fish? No one did. Yes, there were two active fish swimming in the pool, and there were blood stains on the edge of the pool. That was enough evidence that the maimed fish was caught and eaten. The other two fish were swimming happily. Today Dr. Ben-David and Elisa conducted the morning routine in the outdoor laboratory, while Noa and I recorded information and behaviors. At about 10.30 am, we all attended a lecture on stellar sea lions presented by Dr. Lori Rea, a visiting marine biologist at the SeaLife Center. The focus of the lecture was on population growth with respect to physiologically stress-related behaviors resulting from fasting, and the utilization of body fat and stored proteins. The lecture also addressed the reverse physiological effects during non-fasting periods of both adults and juveniles. Other aspects that were presented were the energetics of the sea lions during diving and their foraging success. Analysis of the concentration of the urea-nitrogen concentration and fatty-acid concentration of fasting and non-fasting adults and juveniles were shown. The differences in concentrations of these nutrients were drastic during the fasting and non-fasting periods. These periods coincided with migratory behavior and availability of food in the various habitats. The research also demonstrated the physiological feedback mechanism of the release and utilization of reserves when there is a lack of nutrient intake by the organism. This hour long lecture was very informative, as it helped to explain the physiological factors that support growth that leads to reproductive success, hence population growth.

After returning from the lecture, Dr. Ben-David added six graylings into the diving pool. Right away, several otters started diving into the pool. Within five minutes, Leo caught a salmon, and Porcy caught the other salmon. Leo took his catch into one of the dens and did not share with any of the otters. Cabin stole Porcy's fish and ate it. Cabin is slick and playful, and by so doing he sometimes outsmarts the other otters. Babkin recaptured the grayling that Cabin stole, as well as caught one on his own. Hans and Pilot were also successful in fishing graylings, while Leo caught another salmon. This time he ate half and shared the other half. Hans only ate half of his fish and left the other half for others to enjoy. Except for Leo and Cabin, all the other otters that caught fish were willing to share their catch.

While the otters were feasting on the freshly caught fish, Naked was seen gnawing the mineral block and totally oblivious to the heightened activity. This behavior suggests a mineral deficiency. Naked is anemic and such behavior is a physiological stress related behavior. The good news is that his blood count is rising.

So long after another interesting day with the otters.

The front entrance of the SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska.

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