9/15/14

Let's go for a spin!

Earlier this year, we followed Chacoda into the water, thanks to his special ability to wear a GoPro harness. The harness fits around his front flippers and a critter cam sits snug on his back. Chuck (as he's affectionately known in these parts) and Paul worked together for some time so this handsome harbor seal could learn to wear the harness while swimming and diving around the exhibit.

Adjusting the camera: Above the water

This skill gives us a special opportunity to see what it's like to effortlessly navigate the habitat in this Front Plaza exhibit and even spring out of the water during a training session! Today's cool video shows us both sides of that story: the traditional above-water perspective of trainers in the exhibit and below the water from Chucky's point of view! Take a look.



Not only does this skill of Chacoda's provide a fun way to explore the exhibit underwater, learning new skills such as wearing a harness is a good way to keep this harbor seal active both mentally and physically. Trainers also teach seals behaviors that can help with their medical care, such as opening their mouths for tooth brushing or presenting a flipper so a vet can examine it or draw blood.

Adjusting the camera: Chacoda's perspective

The harbor seals cruising among the toys in their exhibit

Come by to see the harbor seals in their Front Plaza exhibit. You'll have new appreciation for the agility and abilities of these athletic harbor seals!

Check out these links to learn more about the harbors seals:

7/10/14

Look who's 2!

Just days after his dad had a birthday, little Flaherty is celebrating his second birthday at the Aquarium today! He'll enjoy some extra helpings of fish in honor of the occasion, while we all ooh and ahh over how much he's grown.

The birthday boy now...

...around one years old in his, erm, pudgy stage...

...and as a newborn pup, beside his mum, Ursula.

On Monday, Flaherty's dad enjoyed a birthday feast of whole herring and squid for his special day. Isaac was born at the Seattle aquarium 14 years ago! It's hard to imagine that little Flaherty could one day grow to be as big as Isaac. That'll take a couple more years. (Here's how Isaac celebrated last year.)

Check out that hair and those whiskers! 

Of course, to Isaac and Flaherty and Ursula, birthdays feel just like every other day, filled with interaction with their trainers, plenty of time to swim and groom, rough house and, of course, snooze.

With all those youngsters splashing around all day,
it's no wonder that Isaac and Ursula need a nap now and then. 

Come check out the action in the marine mammal center! Buy your tickets online and print them at home, that's the fastest way to get in the door to see the fur seals and sea lions.

7/7/14

Here's how Leu celebrated July 4

We hope everyone enjoyed a fabulous July 4th holiday—no matter what day you celebrated this weekend. Here at the marine mammal center (where a roof protects the open-air exhibit from the full brunt of the elements, thank you very much, Arthur), the seals got festive with some enriching toys during their training session. Here's Leu demonstrating his flag waving skills.

You're a grand ol' seal!
Photo: Lindsay Jones

Now that you're here, come stay a while and get to know Leu!

6/10/14

Awesome Take a Dip Video

Every spring our interactive program with the seals switches over from the winter program to an even more immersive activity called Take a Dip with the Marine Mammals. This popular program gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the marine mammal exhibits—either the harbor seal exhibit on the front plaza or the marine mammal center overlooking Boston Harbor with fur seals and sea lions—and lets you get in the water with the animals!

Billy Hoysgaard shared his video with us and we thought it would be a fantastic way to impress on our blog readers just how close you can get to the animals with this fantastic Aquarium experience! Here's his first-hand perspective.


Take a Dip with a harbor seal at the New England Aquarium by Billy Hoysgaard

As Billy experienced, visitors slide down to sit in the water and work side by side with a trainer. While the actual activities each visitor will do varies depending on the animal that day, participants will likely be able to feed, rub an animal's fur, deliver hand signals and maybe even get a kiss.

"I learned so much from the trainer Erin, and Lana the seal," Billy said. "Erin was really welcoming, warm, informative and knowledgable. Whether Lana was doing twirls or giving kisses, she was so well behaved...and beautiful! I loved feeding her, and working on a new 'hand holding' skill that Erin was teaching Lana."

Taking a Dip with the fur seals

These programs make great gifts for any animal lover—like Billy. "My girlfriend surprised me for my 32nd birthday with Take a Dip with Lana. She learned about it from a friend who had also done the Take a Dip program," Billy explained. "What made it even more special is once we arrived at the Aquarium, we learned that just days before, it was also Lana's 32nd birthday!" These programs are also a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of the Aquarium as well as marine mammals in the wild.

A seal smooches a participant in our Take a Dip with a harbor seal program

Reservations are required for these special programs. Call 617-973-5206 to book your Take a Dip program to find out what the animals eat, discover their unique personalities, favorite toys and each seal's special skills. And you'll walk away with new appreciation for these amazing marine mammals and wonderful memories of a truly unique experience.

6/9/14

Playing with their food

It wasn't so long ago that Kitovi was learning how to eat fish after months of nursing her mom's milk. But just like human babies, eating solid food was a skill that took some practice. It was up to her mom, Ursula, to show her the ropes.

Here's a video of Ursula tossing her food about, ripping the fish into pieces while Kitovi follows her lead.



One indication that this was a teaching session was because of the type of fish being tossed: herring. Ursula usually doesn't give herring the time of day. But here she was throwing it about, mouthing it and showing some interest. The trainers know better. This was likely Ursula tolerating her least-favorite fish just to show Kit how to eat fish.
Oh, those eyes, Kitovi!

Kit is now eating fish like the fur seal she is. Look for her and the band of frisky youngsters in the marine mammal center! There's Leu, Flaherty, Chiidax, Zoe and Sierra. Of course, don't forget about the wise elders of the group: Isaac, Ursula and Roxie.