Fitness Friday: Take the plunge!

Our new baby fur seal has been exploring the main exhibit at the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center recently. Flaherty (who got his name from Walter Flaherty, the Aquarium's VP and COO) is still pretty young—not yet two months old—and weighs in at only 27 pounds. He's still getting his sea legs, too, so to speak. Sometimes it takes him a while to get up the courage to take the plunge. Take a look.

Like our little pup, sometimes it takes a little mental pep-talk to take the leap into an exercise routine. Just remember it's all worth it in the end. Whee!


Fitness Friday: Hosing Off

After a good work-out, there's nothing like a relaxing shower—even if you're a sea lion! Zoe and Sierra enjoy a good hose down after a training session with Kathy. Even Leu, the Northern fur seal, gets in on the action. Ahhhh...

In all seriousness, the young sea lion and fur seal pups love to play around with the hose. It's not because they're thirsty, it's actually a form of enrichment. Sea lions get all the hydration they need from the fish they eat. So they are probably enjoying the feeling of the spray on their thick coats or tickling their throats. And who doesn't on a hot summer day!


Fitness Friday: Summertime fun in the water

It's hard to believe that fall is right around the corner when we're still sweating through scorching summer heat here in New England. But that just means there's still time to have fun in the water!

The fountains on the Greenway are a fun way to cool off in the summer!

After leaving the cool, shady Aquarium, many visitors head straight over to the Rose Kennedy Greenway fountains. Not only do they provide a little escape from the heat, they're a really fun way to get active!

Zoe and Sierra like to mess around with their own kind of water fountain — a regular old garden hose. Watch how they romp and engage with this refreshing toy with Leu, the Northern fur seal pup.

Whether you're a kid or a sea lion, dashing through sprinklers and fountains is a great way to stay active and cool in the summer.


Fitness Friday: Leaping Sea Lion

We recently saw how our California sea lion Zoe could really get some air during her training session with Kathy. Well now it's Sierra's turn to show off. She's been working with Justin on a high porpoising skill. What do you think? Pretty high, right?

We thought this was a great skill to include in our Fitness Friday series because it highlights the strength and fitness of our sea lions. Sierra has to get a good swimming start, then she has to spring into the air. Quite the spectacle. You can bet she's staying cool in the pool, too!


St. Paul, Here I come (Again)!

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to join in a research trip to St. Paul, Alaska with a group of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In case you missed my words of wisdom from that trip, here is the start of the eight blogs about that experience.

This year, I was thrilled when the researchers and my bosses gave me the green light to go again! (Clearly I am just a little bit excited.) This biennial research trip involves a study of Northern fur seals to determine the population of the largest breeding colony in the United States. What makes the trip even more dynamic is the fact that we have a brand new addition to our Marine Mammal Department… a baby Northern fur seal! Ursula gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. [Learn more about this special event here, and see video of little guy here.]

So this time around, I thought it would be really interesting to compare the growth and development of Ursula's pup to those that I will see on the island of St. Paul. Already Ursula's pup is three weeks old and he changes everyday.

I will be sending along some quick blogs while we are out on the island. When I return I will be posting some video showing you the changes our own pup at the Aquarium has gone through as he grows in comparison with the pups on the island. In the meantime, here is a video I put together after my first trip to St. Paul that gives you a small taste of the what I have the opportunity to see and experience on this amazing trip. Enjoy!

All images and video taken during this research study were authorized by the Marine Mammal Protection Act Permit # 14327.



Fitness Friday: Learning to crawl

Sea lions have to swim fast to catch fish and jump 15 feet off the surface to escape a predator. Zoe's natural swimming stroke gets her up to 25 miles per hour in short bursts, easily leaving Michael Phelps in the bubbles. If Michael should come to visit, Zoe's trainer is teaching her a crawl stroke so the race would be fair.

Zoe needs more practice with this silly human swimming stroke, but her coaches know she'll nail it!