Last week we were notified by the animal care staff of the New England Aquarium that male northern fur seal Isaac, formerly of the Seattle Aquarium, had passed away. His health had been declining for several weeks. Isaac was 14 years old; the average longevity of male fur seals in the wild is early to mid-teens.
Isaac’s passing marks the end of an era at the Seattle Aquarium. In 1983, our facility became the first in the world to have a northern fur seal conceived and born in human care. A total of five fur seals born here lived to adulthood—Isaac was the final of these, born in 2000. He had been living at the New England Aquarium since 2009, as part of a collaborative breeding loan. While there, he sired two pups: Flaherty, a male born in 2012; and Kitovi, a female born in 2013.
Isaac’s passing brings the total population of northern fur seals living in zoos in aquariums in the United States to 11. He will be missed.
Read our northern fur seal fact sheet for more information about these amazing animals.
What’s new at the Aquarium? Octopus eggs, salmon eggs, tropical coral that doesn’t need light to survive, and super-colorful fish!
Last week, one of our female giant Pacific octopuses, Delilah, began laying eggs. Although this behavior isn’t normally seen until an octopus has displayed other signs of senescence (the final stage of its life, frequently accompanied by reduced appetite and increased activity), it can occur and has happened previously with other octopuses in our care. Delilah was released under our pier to go forth and multiply. We plan to add another octopus to the exhibit soon—stay tuned for details. In the meantime, you can come see Eddy “stretch his legs” in the exhibit! Want to learn more about giant Pacific octopuses? Read our octopus fact sheet.
The octopus eggs look like grains of rice.
Speaking of eggs, we’ve added 500 chinook salmon eggs to the display trough in our salmon hatchery. Come see them before they hatch and become alevins! What’s an alevin, you ask? Read our salmon fact sheet (and check out the infographic) to find out.
Chinook salmon eggs.
Last but not least (for now), we’ve got some great new non-photosynthetic corals in our Pacific Coral Reef exhibit. As their name implies, these corals don’t require light to survive, similar to corals found in Puget Sound. Our coral fact sheet has great info about these animals (did you know they’re animals?) in our local waters as well as warmer locations. Come see them—and check out the beautiful deep-water fish, like the decorated dartfish and pink flasher wrasse, as well!
Orange cup coral.
You may have seen the recent press coverage of a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that discusses the association of a virus with the recent outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The Seattle Aquarium is proud to have been an active collaborator in this important work and our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lesanna Lahner, is a co-author.
Sunflower sea stars
While coverage of the paper may present the associated densovirus as the definitive cause of SSWD, as with any scientific research, this publication represents only a first step toward understanding disease in sea stars. More studies are needed to determine the specific role, if any, of this particular virus in SSWD, including consideration of the role of environmental conditions and other potential stressors.
In the end, it’s likely that the explanation for this disease event will encompass many factors. The Seattle Aquarium remains an active contributor to this research effort and others like it to understand SSWD and promote the conservation of sea stars. We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Come to the Tropical Pacific exhibit at the Aquarium to see our latest addition: spotted lagoon jellyfish, Mastigias papua. These jellyfish are actually photosynthetic; however, they still need to predate on plankton in order to survive. Also, instead of having one mouth, like the moon jellyfish, these animals have eight!
Spotted lagoon jellies
They’re also very active, always pulsating across the exhibit. Occasionally, they will flip upside-down and pulsate on the bottom—this is thought to allow more light to the zooxanthellae (symbiotic algae) living inside them to receive more light.
Come on down to the Seattle Aquarium and enjoy these charming animals!
The Aquarium was honored to receive a Community Impact Award from Seattle Business magazine on October 23. The awards, inaugurated this year, honored “the region’s most influential community leaders” and celebrated 24 honorees in categories ranging from sustainability to youth development.
The Aquarium received an award in the “Sustainability in Business Operations” category, tying for silver with Harley Marine Services. Sustainable business practices are an important part of delivering on our institution’s mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment. Notes Aquarium President & CEO Bob Davidson, “With our mission statement, we’ve got to walk the talk—and that includes what we do in our facility.” Our green practices include composting and recycling, using solar hot water, installing energy-efficient upgrades and more—including a 247-panel photovoltaic array, one of the largest in the country, on our roof. For details on our sustainability efforts, click here.