Seattle, WA—The Seattle Aquarium welcomed back Sekiu (pronounced: see-queue), a northern sea otter, on December 14, 2021. Sekiu was born at the Seattle Aquarium on January 14, 2012 and has spent the last four years at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, where she was a companion for the zoo’s southern sea otter, Libby, residing in their Rocky Shores habitat. The two were later joined by Moea, another female southern sea otter.
Sekiu is the last sea otter born in a zoological facility in the U.S., and will join fellow Seattle Aquarium northern sea otters Adaa and Mishka. Adaa, Sekiu’s father, was rescued after being stranded in Alaska and her mother was the Aquarium’s late otter, Aniak.
Visitors to Seattle Aquarium will be able to see Sekiu on December 15 and will notice that she is incredibly athletic and social and loves to play with her toys. Northern sea otters are larger than their southern counterparts, with Sekiu weighing roughly 60 pounds.
In the wild, most northern sea otters live in rocky coastal habitats near points of land where some of the areas are protected from wind and waves. Prized for their extraordinarily dense furs, sea otters were hunted to near extinction at the turn of the 19th century, and the populations off the coasts of Oregon and Washington were completely wiped out. After reintroduction in the 1960s and ‘70s, the sea otter numbers off the coast of Washington have grown to about roughly 3,000 animals. They’ve recovered in areas, but conservation efforts are still underway to protect their habitat. Protecting the health of the ocean will also help to increase populations of this keystone species and restore ecological balance.
Seattle Aquarium and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium have worked together for decades on conservation projects and animal health and welfare, including animal exchanges and cooperative programs. Both Seattle Aquarium and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are accredited members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
Visitors to the Seattle Aquarium can see Sekiu in person—along with colorful local and tropical fish, shorebirds, jellies, tide pool animals and more. The Aquarium is open daily, 9:30am–6pm (holiday hours on December 24, closed December 25). Advance ticket purchase, proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of negative COVID-19 test administered by a testing provider and done in the last 72 hours, and masks are required. Learn more at SeattleAquarium.org/visit.