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FB Live Answers-Harbor Seals

Special thanks to all who tuned into our Facebook Live on March 18. Find the answers to all our questions here!

Do they have siblings?  None of our seals are related, except Cobh and his parents Cork and Pearl!

How old is Coral? Coral will be 8 in May!

What does Coral eat?  A varied diet of herring, capelin, squid, and anchovies. She also likes ice!

Does Coral have a favorite fish? Herring!

Do they interact with each other? Our seals do interact with each other. We vary what habitats and what social structures they are in almost daily. Sometimes they hang out alone and sometimes they interact with each other.

Do they sleep?  They do! They can sleep underwater for short periods of time, rest at the surface of the water, or sleep on land.

Does Coral prefer to be in or out of the water? It depends! She seems to be one of our seals that prefers being in the water but sometimes she will haul out on land.

Do seals respond to music? Yes! We provide tons of enrichment for them, and one of those is music!

How do select all your great workers? Our trainers have varied backgrounds but the most important besides a college degree is animal experience. We have all started out volunteering or interning at various animal facilities!

How fast can they swim? The maximum speed is about 15-20 mph.

And how do they eat?  When water is too murky and their vision is compromised, harbor seals will use their vibrissae (whiskers) to find their food in the water by sensing the prey’s movements. They do have a mouthful of teeth; but, will only use those teeth to kill or grasp onto their prey and will then swallow their fish whole.


Do they have blubber?  Yes, they do! It’s not as thick as that of whales, and their blubber thickness will fluctuate with the seasons as they put on or lose weight depending on the temperature.

How many species of seals there are! There are 18 species of true seals

What is that blue thing she took out of the bucket? That was Coral’s shape, which is a triangle. Each of our seals have their own individual shape that they are trained to respond to at the start of each session. This allows for a lot of variability since they can interact with different trainers and start their session in different parts of the habitat.

What parts of the world are they normally found in? Harbor seals are native to our waters! They live in temperate coastal habitats along the northern coasts of North America, Europe, and Asia. They occur on the U.S East and West coasts.

Do they get along well with the beluga whales, Juno & Kela? They tend to leave each other alone. They are species that would normally inhabit the same waters, especially along the Alaskan coast, so it is very natural for them to be in the same space.

How much does Coral weigh? Right now, Coral weighs just over 200 pounds.

What kind of education do you have to work with the animals? A lot of us have an animal science or behavior background and at least have a BS with some sort of biology degree.

Do you have to brush their teeth? We don’t necessarily have to brush their teeth as often as we brush our own due the fact that they don’t chew their food. However, all our harbor seals are trained to allow us to brush their teeth for proactive oral hygiene care.

Are the seals rescued? Of the 8 harbor seals that reside at Mystic Aquarium, 6 Atlantic harbor seals came to us from our own animal rescue program.  Our 1 pacific harbor seal was born at another facility in 1999.  We also had an Atlantic harbor seal pup born here last year on June 9, 2019.  He is the first harbor seal born here in about 20 years! We also have 2 spotted seals who were rescued!

How many times are they fed? All our animals are fed on a variable schedule of getting at least 2 training sessions a day and we have been able to do upwards of 10 training sessions a day with the seals.

How long can a harbor seal live? About 25 to 30 years

Do they have a favorite person? We are unsure if the animals have a favorite person.  However, each trainer must build an individual relationship with each animal.  This relationship is the starting point for all our training here at Mystic Aquarium.