#139: The Art of Jug Handling

This is a really cool video of Isaac, our 9-year-old male Northern fur seal, jug handling. Check out Patty's previous post here, for information on why they hang around in this neat position. It's hard to tell where each flipper is when he is already in position, but keep watching as he unfolds and folds his flippers back into place.

Isaac shows us how this resting behavior looks from start to finish-almost in slow motion!



#138: Ursula the Sliding Fur Seal

Ursula the Northern fur seal likes to slide on the ramp down to the holding room pool! She will slide during, after and in between training sessions.

Looks like fun to me! Check out he video:



#137: Harbor Seal Happy Dance!

Our Harbor Seals are excellent at many fun, energetic behaviors and Amelia is one of the best at dancing. She learned this behavior through targeting, which is one of the first steps to training the majority of the behaviors she knows. We started by asking her to touch--or target--one flipper to our hand and then used the other hand for the other flipper. We then increased the amount of times she touched flippers to hands. Over time we were able to back away from touching the flipper and then increase her distance from us in the water. This is a short explanation but the finished product is fun to see.

Here is a view of Amelia from the front of the exhibit. She learned the dance behavior many years ago and it just shows how practice makes perfect.


#136: Chuck the flying harbor seal

Porpoising is one of the many impressive behaviors that harbor seals do naturally. By leaping out of the water, they are able to take a quick breath of air and a look around when either playing or trying to get out of harm's way.

Many of our seals have been trained to do this behavior on signal - it's a great way for us to show off a cool natural behavior while keeping the seals active. Check out this video of Chuck:



#135: Why are the seals on the rocks?

If you have walked by the Atlantic Harbor Seal exhibit recently, you may have seen something that only happens during this time of year. Our harbor seals are molting! Molting is a process where a seal sheds its old coat of hair as a brand new beautiful coat grows in. For much of the two to three weeks it takes to molt, our seals spend a lot of time hauled out on the rocks. It may look like they are just taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather, but staying out on the rocks serves a really important purpose.

This gives them the opportunity to rest and conserve energy as their bodies go through the molting process. During the molting season, which begins in early July and ends in early August, there are days when you may find all seven seals taking a snooze during the day. As the new hair grows in, their skin can be more sensitive, so we give the seals Vitamin E until their new coats are complete. Check out the picture above. How many seals can you find hauled out on the rocks?



Today I took a few pictures of the seals that are right in the middle of their molts. If you look closely, you can see the color changes, especially on Amelia. The darker patches on her back show off her beautiful, silvery colored new hair. The rest of her body is still covered with her older hair, which has now taken on a yellow tint. The hair even feels different. The old hair has a rough feel to it, while the new hair feels very soft. Stay tuned for some more pictures as they continue to grow in their new coats!




#134: The fur seals' new home opens today!

Today the Aquarium's brand new New Balance Marine Mammal Center opens to the public! The seals are doing great in their new space and it will be fun to see their reaction to visitors coming to see them. Cordova, in particular, likes to follow people as they walk past the shallow wading pool. Here are some photos of the new space:

The new center has been getting a lot of attention in the press. The seals have been spreading the word all over TV and radio. We already posted a great video from NECN. Here's a clip from WBZ.com's Radiovision. This photo of Justin was in the Metro yesterday.

Plus, this story about the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center's fitness mission and the Move It! theme program appeared in the Associated Press and was picked up in many other sources. Come on down to the Aquarium and see the seals in their new space!

Here's a photo slide show of the new space!