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Thursday, May 12, 2016

A new home for rescued seals

Two Females Deemed Non-Releasable after Stranding in Calif.

Two Northern fur seal pups have been relocated from the southern California coast to the Mystic Aquarium near the shore of Long Island Sound. The seal pups, named Pup XCu31 and Pup XCu32, had some kind of difficulties eating in the Pacific Ocean. If the two seals were released into the Pacific Ocean, it’s likely they wouldn’t survive. Photo: Mystic Aquarium Photo“Her body is about the size of a loaf of ciabatta bread.” That is how Pup XCu32 was recently described.

She is one of a dynamic duo of Northern fur seal pups that arrived at Mystic Aquarium on the evening of Thursday, April 28, 2016. Along with Pup XCu31, the two are currently being cared for in Mystic Aquarium’s Aquatic Animal Study Center (AASC).

“With animal conservation central to our mission and the number one goal of our animal care team, we are honored to have this opportunity to care for these special animals as new inhabitants of Mystic Aquarium,” said Dr. Allison D. Tuttle, Vice President of Biological Programs.

These two tiny pups are acclimating to Mystic’s Animal Care Team.  And, while in excellent condition, they will remain in AARC during a requisite quarantine period before being introduced into the Pacific Northwest Exhibit where they will join fellow fur seal rescues Ziggy Star and Sam.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the Callorhinus ursinus or Northern fur seal is classified as Vulnerable (VU); meaning the species is “considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.”

The two will receive formal names from the Animal Care Team in the coming days.

A complete blog of their care can be found at

Pup XCu31was found walking on the boardwalk at Venice Beach on November 16. After months of rehabilitation at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro,Calif., she has demonstrated no interest in foraging for fish.

Still reliant on tube-feeding for sustenance, she was deemed non-releasable.  Pup XCu32 stranded at Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles County on November 15 with evidence of emaciation. 

She also demonstrated an abnormal reluctance to forage for fish during rehabilitation at the Marine Mammal Care Center. With this sustained behavior she, too, was deemed non-releasable by the federal government.

Mystic Aquarium, as one of only four AZA facilities that comprise a consortium to care for Northern fur seals, will be providing a permanent home for the two pups.  There are currently eight (8) Northern fur seals in human care in the US.

Once hunted in large numbers for their luxurious pelts Northern fur seals are now protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In 2008, Northern fur seals were listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN.

These two female Northern fur seals will be critical to the future of the species; providing an important role in future breeding opportunities and breeding research.  The research will be pivotal as Consortium scientists and researchers strive to understand the causes for the population decreases and provide insight in hopes of contributing to the recovery of the species.

Mystic’s history with this species goes back to 1977. One of our most popular residents is Ziggy Star, a rescued Northern fur seal with her own success story.

About Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is counted among the nation’s leading aquariums with more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only belugas. Mystic Aquarium has been a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. The mission of Mystic Aquarium is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education, and research. Mystic Aquarium receives major support from The Coca-Cola Company, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Resorts World Sentosa, and United Technologies Corporation. Learn more at