As reported by Jesse Ciletti, Mystic Aquarium’s Trainer of Cetaceans and Pinnipeds
January 8-15, 2018: With only a few days left here at Alaska SeaLife Center, I am feeling pretty emotional. These past few weeks have been a great experience. Tyonek is doing really well. His last CT scan showed that an earlier lung problem is resolved; which is amazing news.
We are now just doing some basic husbandry tests like blowhole and gastric samples. My job this week has been to continue to monitor Tyonek, bottle feed him, provide enrichment, and desensitize him to the stretcher. I feel so lucky to have been able to observe him at this stage because I get the chance to see him learn about himself. He is vocalizing more, moving his melon a ton, diving longer, beginning to spit water, and moving his pectoral flippers in different ways.
I’ve had the chance in my career to take care of young cetaceans; but, this experience has definitely been special. It is crazy to think that we are Tyonek’s world right now. He relies solely on us to take care of him and make sure he stays healthy. I am honored to have been a part of this and can’t believe how many people and facilities have banded together to help. Tyonek’s name means the “little chief” and it is so fitting because he has a village taking care of him! He is definitely one special little whale.