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|Mystic Aquarium welcomes two northern fur seals|
Sea Research Foundation’s Mystic Aquarium welcomes two northern fur seals from New York Aquarium. Guests can see and learn about Jack, 10, and Sam, 9, at the aquarium’s outdoor Pacific Northwest habitat.
Jack weighs 220 pounds and is approximately 10 inches taller than Sam, who weighs 215 pounds. The siblings were born at New York Aquarium and are at Mystic Aquarium on breeding loan. The last time Mystic Aquarium had fur seals on display was 2009 when Commander and Baranov left on loan to Seattle Aquarium and New England Aquarium, respectively. Mystic Aquarium is one of only four institutions in the United States to display northern fur seals.
To stay warm in the cold waters of the Northern Pacific, northern fur seals have 300,000 hairs per square inch, giving them the second thickest coat in the animal kingdom (sea otters have the thickest). One of nine species of fur seal, the northern fur seal is found the farthest north, with much of the population located near the Pribilof Islands.
Historical decline of northern fur seals was caused by unregulated sealing for their thick coats. The species was afforded protection in U.S. waters under the 1911 Fur Seal Act, allowing populations to increase again. There is concern about the current status of fur seal populations, especially in the Pribilof Islands, where the population has declined by over 50 percent since the 1950s. Consequently, fur seals are designated as “depleted” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, meaning the population stock is below its optimum sustainable population. Factors that may have contributed to past or present declines of northern fur seals include entanglement in marine debris, parasites and disease, pollutants, general nutrition and predation.
Published on October 16, 2012
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