SEATTLE - A sea otter named Nuka who survived the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill died Thursday morning.

The 21-year-old otter was euthanized at the Seattle Aquarium where she had lived the last nine years of her life. Nuka was just a baby when she was rescued from the Exxon spill site in Alaska. At that time rescuers were able to clean her coat before the oil robbed her of the ability to stay warm.

Veterinarians said Nuka had been in declining health over the past several months, and had lived far beyond the life expectancy of a sea otter.

Nuka was the oldest of the sea otters living at the Seattle Aquarium.

She was also one of the last two or three surviving sea otters from the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

Nuka will be remembered for helping scientists learn more about the way animals react to oil spills and helping spread awareness of man-made threats to nature.

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