Just in time for four weekends of fun during our Marine Mammal Mania event, here are some fascinating details about the life cycle of the most ubiquitous (and, dare we say, most charming?) marine mammal in Puget Sound: the harbor seal! Plus tidbits about the Seattle Aquarium’s own Barney, Hogan and Q.
Last Saturday, April 13, Sharon Melin, wildlife biologist at NOAA’s National Marine Mammal laboratory, came to the Aquarium and shared her experience with wild northern fur seals. Working with biologist Julie Carpenter and our male northern fur seal Commander, she demonstrated how satellite tags are placed on adult fur seals to track their ranges (see photo).
Here at the Seattle Aquarium we have four sea otters: Adaa, a 13-year-old male found on an airport runway; Lootas, a 15-year-old female found orphaned in Alaska and rehabilitated back to health here; Aniak, a 10-year-old female born here to Lootas; and Sekiu, our 1-year-old female born to Aniak and Adaa.
Harbor seals are the most abundant marine mammal living in Puget Sound and it’s almost impossible to tell a male from a female just by looking at them. The two male harbor seals at the aquarium usually weigh the most during the winter and lose some weight in the summer as the water temperature increases.
Male Northern fur seals can weigh 5-6 times as much as their female counterparts! A female may only gain and lose 10-20 pounds throughout the year, while adult males can gain and lose over 250 pounds in one year!
Many adult marine mammals gain and lose weight throughout the year depending on the water temperature, food availability and behavioral changes associated with breeding seasons. Here at the Seattle Aquarium we weigh our marine mammals at least twice a month in order to monitor their health.