The New England Aquarium welcomed the birth of a rare baby seal this week, the aquarium announced today.
A worker noticed blood on the floor of the seal holding area shortly before midnight Tuesday. She realized that a 14-year-old Northern fur seal, Ursula, might be in labor. After marine mammal trainers and veterinary staff arrived, they found Ursula in a corner with her eight-pound pup, the seal’s first.
Ursula, originally from the New York Aquarium, and her partner, Isaac, from the Seattle Aquarium, were brought to New England to take part in a breeding program. This is the first birth of a Northern fur seal at the aquarium.
The newborn is the 13th Northern fur seal born in an American aquarium or zoo.
Northern fur seals are expected to live 15 to 25 years and are usually found in the cold waters of the north Pacific and off the Pribilof Islands in Alaska, as they have the second thickest fur of any animal. Male seals can weigh up to 600 pounds, while females only weigh up to 120 pounds. Northern fur seals were once nearly hunted to extinction for their pelts until the practice was banned in 1996.
Ursula and the baby seal will not be shown to the public until the pup is more mature, socially and physically, according to Tony LaCasse, an aquarium spokesman.