#120: Seal of the Week--Chacoda

While our fur seals are on vacation, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to give you an in depth introduction to each of our Atlantic harbor seals. Each week we will highlight one of our harbor seals and give you some cool facts and amazing behaviors that make each of our animals unique.

This week the star of the show is Chacoda!

Chacoda was born on June 8, 1995. He is going to be fourteen years old next week! His mom is Trumpet and he has an older sister named Cayenne. Chacoda's name was chosen by his trainers and is a combination of two different words ... Chauncy (a lobster pier in Maine that a lot of trainers enjoyed) and Coda (the end of a musical piece, since Chacoda's Mom is named Trumpet). Despite all of the thought that went into his name, more often than not we just call him Chuck!
Chuck is part of our spotted family of seals. You can see this by taking a look at the picture above. He has dark spots all along his belly. Below, you can see that he also has very large nostrils; these help to distinguish him from his sister Cayenne who has more petite features. Currently Chuck weighs about 155 lbs. but has been known to reach weights in the 180's depending on the time of year.

Although Chuck is our youngest seal, he has learned a vast array of behaviors. One of the most well known behaviors is his ability to vocalize. Chuck can often be heard making deep guttural sounds that echo throughout the exhibit and even down the front plaza of the Aquarium! Like his grandfather Hoover, and his father Rigel, Chuck has learned to say a few different words and phrases. Stay tuned for a future post from Cheryl for more info!

Wearing an underwater camera is another cool behavior that Chuck has under his belt. Paul trained this behavior last year. Now you can get a view of our exhibit from the harbor seals' perspective. Paul is also in the process of training Chuck to do a back flip. This is an awesome behavior to watch because it shows how athletic the seals are. If Chuck gets enough speed and height, he can propel himself completely out of the water, flip backwards in a full 360 degree circle and then land back in the water in his original position.

Erin is also Chuck's trainer and she has done some amazing things with him. All of our seals allow us to brush their teeth using manual toothbrushes. But sometimes it takes a little more to handle seal plaque. So, over the past six months, Erin has not only trained Chuck to allow a rotary toothbrush on his teeth, they have now moved up to a Sonicare toothbrush! For those of you who have one, you know the sound that they make and how much they vibrate. It takes a lot of work to train a seal to accept a toothbrush like that, but now Chuck lets Erin brush his teeth with the Sonicare every day. Only the best for this guy!

These are just a few examples of the amazing behaviors that Chacoda has learned here at the Aquarium. Chacoda can be found living with the rest of our Atlantic harbor seal colony in their exhibit on the front plaza. Come by sometime to see a session. There are four each day and you never know what behaviors Chuck will be showing off!

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