Atlanta (February 13, 2010) –
The Georgia Aquarium added four new harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina), two males and two females, into the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery. Guests were able to see the animals beginning Saturday.
These unique looking animals range in color from silver-gray to black or dark brown and can double their weight in four to six weeks. The new pups, born last year, are between 3.5 - 4 feet in length and weigh between 86-114 pounds. Harbor seals, known for their large size and prominent face whiskers, can detect their prey in low light conditions by touch, vibration or water movement.
“We are thrilled to have four new harbor seal pups residing at the Georgia Aquarium,” said Billy Hurley, senior vice president of husbandry and chief animal officer. “The new additions add a unique and diverse experience for guests. Everyone will love them.”
Harbor seals spend about half of their time in the sea and half on land. They are born with oil glands in the skin that help waterproof the fur and can remain under water for 40 minutes. Harbor seals are the least vocal of their kind, primarily “talking” to each other underwater. Predators of the harbor seal include sharks, polar bears, killer whales and eagles.
About harbor seals
The harbor seal is found in temperate, subarctic and arctic waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. There are approximately 400,000 to 500,000 harbor seals, worldwide and range in color from silver-gray to black or dark brown. Adult harbor seals can grow up to four to six feet in length, weighing approximately 375 lbs. Harbor seals feed on a variety of fish including flounder, salmon and rockfish. They are listed as “data deficient” on the IUCN Red List.
About the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and more aquatic life than any other aquarium. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and exciting guest experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.