Monday, February 17, 2020

First Ever Sea Otters Flown to the UK in Epic 5,000 Mile Logistical Challenge

Project Studies the 'Teddy Bears of the Ocean'
Shipping News Feature

UK – Britain has a new species following the arrival of a pair of Sea Otters following a 5,000 mile journey from Alaska as part of a pioneering education and conservation project. But fisherman need not worry, the pair are destined for the purpose-built multi-million pound Marine Mammal Rescue Facility in Birmingham, where they'll become permanent residents following a period of quarantine.

Nor will there be a problem should they ever escape as the two are ‘de-sexed’, being part of a ground-breaking education and conservation impact project. Once on the verge of extinction after being hunted for their thick, rich pelt in the 1800s, Sea Otters remain a seriously threatened species being IUCN listed as endangered in some regions, and now have a vital role to play in a ground-breaking marine education programme here, on the other side of the globe.

The two Sea Otters, who are yet to be named, were transported in custom-made crates, designed to meet their needs throughout the journey. After being transported from Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport by a small chartered Cessna Caravan aircraft, the Sea Otters were loaded on to a Bombardier Global 6000 chartered aircraft.

The whole transport saw the animals loaded in individual comfortable and roomy crates for the whole duration of the journey, which took only seventeen and a half hours from one Sea Life centre to the other. Transportation was supplied by Quick Cargo Service and the animals were escorted by a team of welfare and veterinary experts for the duration.

Upon touch down at London Heathrow, the Sea Otters were transferred on to a specialist James Cargo vehicle and escorted by police escort to the National Sea Life Centre where they were placed into quarantine where they will spend a minimum of 15 days being monitored and resting after their epic journey before members of the public are able to access the Marine Mammal Rescue Facility.

The new rescue facility was purpose built last year with advanced technologies to mimic the natural wild habitat and environment of Alaska by the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham to meet the strict requirements of Sea Otter guardianship. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the facility after an arduous and financially challenging application process which has taken over two and half years to complete.

No other UK environment can replicate such a habitat, with coastal waters too warm, only the technological advances of Birmingham’s new facility, which has engineering in place to emulate their natural habitat, was deemed suitable. Jonny Rudd, National Sea Life Centre Curator said:

“We’re absolutely delighted the Sea Otters have arrived safely. This has been a complex but inspiring project and has taken global efforts and a collective vision with our conservation partners and the team at Quick Cargo Service in helping to prepare them for travelling to their new home.

”The Sea Otters are rapidly adapting well to their new home and we'll continue to carefully monitor them both around the clock but we’re pleased with their overall progress and welfare checks, which have been taking place throughout the relocation. The co-ordination of this project has been down to so many people and we’re extremely grateful for all their hard work.”

Photo: One can see why they have the ‘Teddy Bear of the Ocean’ tag.