Fitness Friday: Who's Tougher?

What happens when a group of Aquarium staff members challenges the fur seals to various races and tests of endurance? You get a Fitness Friday rumble! The Aquarium staff members and friends are in training for a competition called Tough Mudder, which is a test of strength, determination, endurance and teamwork. They're blogging about training for the race and also raising funds for the Aquarium here. And they were feeling so good about their toughness that they decided to go up against the fur seals to tests themselves.

So what happened when Chris, an aquarist who works with jellies, went up against Isaac the fur seal in a swimming race? Watch the result in the video below.

Even though Isaac gave Chris a head start, he left Chris sputtering in his wake. Fur seals are definitely at home in the water, and definitely athletic. Check out this video of Ursula if you're not convinced!

Aquarium staff and supporters are participating in an extreme obstacle course event called the Tough Mudder this weekend. They have been posting about their training methods and animals that inspire them to work hard here. They are also raising funds to support the Aquarium. You can help them out by donating to support their efforts.


This board really hits the spot

As you all have already seen, Baranov can get pretty creative when it comes to back scratchin'. He has been cracking up YouTubers for a while now with the video of him scratching his back against the rocks in the exhibit.

Looks like he's found yet another way to reach that sweet spot on his own.

Baranov, he's just a well-groomed guy 



Fitness Friday: Team Phoca Training

It's finally here! The friendly competition between the fur seals (aka Team Phoca) and Team Tiburon will take place at the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center at 12:30 pm and 2:45 pm today, so we hope you will be joining us in cheering on your favorite team.

A fur seal in training with her trainer, Erin

Of course, both teams have been busy preparing. The challenges that make up today's competition will take place both in and out of the water, but we already know that Northern fur seals are well adapted to moving around in different environments. Check out this video to see what the seals have been up to.

Be sure to check in next week for some of the highlights of today's event along with the final score. In the meantime, who do you think will be the winner?

The fur seals are holding their heads high, feeling pretty confident


Fitness Friday - Marathon Weekend

With the 116th Boston Marathon just around the corner, I am always inspired to get out there and start running again. This got me thinking about how the different types of seals at the Aquarium move around on land. Eared seals (all fur seals and sea lions) have adapted to move quickly and easily on land, while true seals, like our harbor seals aren't quite as agile. Why is that?

It all comes down to feet, or in this case, flippers. Fur seals and sea lions have larger flippers and can rotate their back flippers underneath their bodies so they have "four on the floor." Check out Ursula's flippers here.

Other seals have much shorter flippers and their back flippers stay behind them. To move on land they have to move on their bellies, similar to an inchworm.

Now lets see those flippers in action. (Be sure to listen carefully, you can hear Trumpet's belly slapping the ground when she moves!)

We have a few people from the Aquarium running the Marathon on Monday. We wish them and all of the participants the best of luck!

And don't forget, next Friday, April 20, the fur seals will be taking on Team Tiburon in a friendly competition in preparation for the upcoming "Tough Mudder" race. We hope to see you all here at the NEAq cheering on your favorite team. Our next Fitness Friday post will highlight the training techniques used by the seals to prepare, so stay tuned!


Say Ahhh! Fur Seal Check-Up

We've focused a lot on the active side of the animals, but if they weren't feeling well they certainly wouldn't be as active. So in order to make sure they are in the best shape possible, the seals have regular check-ups with their doctors just like we do. Let's take a look at what happens during Roxie's monthly check-up (which we call "rounds") with her trainer, Erin W., and her veterinarian, Dr. Julie.

First, we take a look at Roxie's entire body. The easiest way to do this is while Roxie is lying down.

Both Erin and Dr. Julie are checking the overall appearance of Roxie's skin, fur and the shape of her body.

Next we'll move on to more specific areas, like the eyes. Roxie is a senior fur seal and has cataracts. Erin and Dr. Julie look for any changes in the appearence of Roxie's eyes.

We also want to make sure that their teeth and gums are in good shape, so we monitor any plaque build-up, gingivitis or gum irritation.

Now I know what you're thinking...those are some dirty teeth! While you might think all that squid (and ink) are to blame, the dark color that you see on Roxie's teeth and mouth is the result of a normal and healthy bacteria.

Of course, with all of their activity, we need to make sure their flippers are in great shape. Erin is checking Roxie's range of motion while she also looks for any nicks or cuts on her skin.

Last, but not least, we might take a blood sample to make sure that everything is healthy on the inside. People usually have blood drawn from their arm. For the seals, we draw blood from a vein in the hind flipper.

We spread their hind flipper out (imagine spreading your fingers), then look for the veins that run in between their digits.

Roxie did a great job and passed her monthly rounds with flying colors.