Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) rarely strand in areas monitored by humans, and there is little published data on the diseases, parasites, nutritional state, and stress levels of Steller sea lions in the wild. In May 2002, a female Steller sea lion pup (EJS-02-01) was sighted separated from her mother after strong storms in Southeast Alaska. After 5 days of observations, EJS-02-01 was transferred to the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) in Seward, Alaska. During 11 mo of rehabilitation at ASLC, body weight was monitored and opportunistic fecal samples (n = 86) were analyzed for corticosterone concentrations. Fecal corticosterone concentrations ranged from 15 to 3,805 ng/ g for EJS-02-01. Peak corticosterone values reflected responses to acute stressors during rehabilitation. EJS-02-01 was successfully released at Gran Point, Alaska, in April 2003. Fecal corticosterone assay monitoring provided a valuable tool to monitor various stressors and is useful in monitoring long-term situations like rehabilitation.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1