Come take a dip with the harbor seals!

This summer, the New England Aquarium is letting visitors get closer than ever to the animals. Not only can you touch shark and rays at the Aquarium's new touch tank, but now you can put on a pair of waders and hop into the harbor seals exhibit! We're happy to announce a brand new program for visitors to add to their Aquarium visit. We're calling it "Take a Dip with the Harbor Seals."

So what happens in the program? Here are the details. Visitors can sit waist deep in the water with the harbor seals at your fingertips! Being in the water is a unique and exciting way to learn about our harbor seals.

The participant is escorted behind the scenes of the Harbor Seal Exhibit by a trainer or volunteer. They are briefed on what will occur during the session and how to safely interact with the seals. Then the participant puts on water proof waders and enter the exhibit area with the trainer. They step into the water and sit on a flat rock so they are waist deep in the water with their feet hanging over the edge of the rock.

Then the trainer calls the seal over and the interaction begins. You will be eye to eye with the seal, and may have the opportunity to give a belly rub, touch a flipper, feed the seal some fish and perhaps even get a kiss. During this program the trainer will point out some of the harbor seal's unique characteristics and what to do if you come across a seal on the beach, or while fishing or boating. We can't guarantee specific interactions, but these are examples of some that may be offered on any particular day. So are you ready to come hang out with the seals?

Get the program specifics here.


Welcome Back Fur Seals

Water is filling the fur seal exhibit as I write this. After the better part of six months the exhibit repairs are complete and plans are in motion to bring the fur seals back to New England Aquarium this week!

Baranov, Roxie and JD have remained on site in an area off of the main exhibit. Without the other three seals here keeping Baranov on his toes, it looks like he's been on a steady diet of junk food. In other words, he is huge! Actually, his diet has been the same, herring, capelin and squid, he's just wanted a lot more of it.

This is the time of year when male seals and sea lions put on a lot of weight so they don't have to waste precious energy finding fish during mating season. I understand that Isaac is looking more hefty and mature than when he left in October. We can't wait for Isaac, Cordova and Ursula to rejoin the group and get reacquainted with our visitors!



Aquarium Lecture and Live Webcast: Counting Seal Pups in the Pribilofs

Tonight (Wednesday, April 6) at 7 p.m. Senior Marine Mammal Trainer Patty Schilling gave a free lecture:

Counting Seal Pups in the Pribilofs 
Thanks to everyone who attended and watched the live webcast!

The New England Aquarium is home to six northern fur seals, half of the U.S. aquarium population. Aquarium visitors have the chance to see an animal rarely seen anywhere else. A majority of northern fur seals migrate to the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea for their annual breeding season. The National Marine Mammal Laboratory does a study every two years to determine the rate of pup production on the Pribilof Islands. This August, through the John G. Cunningham Award, Patty Schilling helped with the 2010 fur seal pup count. It was a chance to observe these rarely seen animals first hand in the wild and utilize the information to better understand the Aquarium’s Northern fur seals.

You can scroll through all the blog posts written about this expedition here.
Browse video posted by the Aquarium's marine mammal trainers here.

About Aquarium Lectures
The Aquarium has been providing free lectures and films by scientists, environmental writers, photographers and others since 1972. The Aquarium Lecture Series is presented free to the public through the generosity of the Lowell Institute, which has been providing funding for free public lectures at universities and museums since 1836.

Click through to see a schedule of upcoming lectures.


Aquarium Lecture Series - The Pup Count

My last post about my trip to St. Paul to aid in northern fur seal research was back in October. However, there is still so much more that I want to show everyone! If you would like to learn more about my trip, stay tuned for the remainder of the St. Paul Logs. But, if you can't wait that long, you are in luck! Next Wednesday at 7 p.m. I will be giving a presentation about my experiences in Alaska as part of the Aquarium Lecture Series. The lecture is free and you are welcome to sign up in advance.

Northern fur seal pup on the rookery.

This talk is a great opportunity to learn more about the northern fur seal and the work being done to assess the status of the population. I will also being showing some really cool video and poking fun at myself ... should be a good time. :) I look forward to seeing you next week!

Northern fur seal pup resting on the rookery.