Hello, Mishka! Seattle Aquarium welcomes a new sea otter

Mishka, 6 month old sea otter coming to Seattle Aquarium

Great news! Mishka, a rescued Alaskan sea otter pup, will soon be making her home at the Seattle Aquarium. She’ll be arriving very early tomorrow morning and it’s expected that Aquarium visitors will be able to view her on Sunday, February 1—making Super Bowl Sunday even more super!

Mishka, which is Russian for “little bear,” is just over six months old and is coming to the Aquarium by way of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska. After being caught in a fishing net in July 2014, she was rescued, rehabilitated at the Alaska SeaLife Center, and deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Her caretakers in Alaska report that she’s been enjoying a diet of surf clams, crab, mussels, capelin, squid, herring and pollock and now weighs just over 26 pounds. They also say that she seems to have a lot of fun with enrichment activities, particularly piles of ice.

Because Mishka has been living indoors, Aquarium staff will be systematically acclimating her to her new outdoor environment. After she arrives on Saturday, she’ll be placed in the Aquarium’s sea otter holding pool, where the windows will be covered and stanchions will be used to keep visitors out of the area. Based on Mishka’s behavior, the window coverings will be gradually removed in sections. Over the following few days, the stanchions will be moved closer to the windows until she gets used to people being close. In time, as she becomes comfortable in her new surroundings, we will introduce Aniak as her first companion.

Northern sea otters have made their homes at the Aquarium since we opened in 1977. In fact, we have the distinction of being the first zoo or aquarium to have a sea otter pup conceived, born and survive into adulthood. Multiple populations of sea otters are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act—northern sea otters are threatened. As accredited members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the Aquarium and Alaska SeaLife Center are working collaboratively to place sea otters that have been deemed non-releasable by the USFWS. Initiatives like this help further our goals related to conservation research and education about this species.

Check out our fact sheet to learn more about northern sea otters—and come meet Mishka on your next visit!

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The Seattle Searocks Hawktopus prepares for NFSea Championship

The Seattle Searocks have been preparing for Sunday’s NFSea Championship game against the Green Bay Prawns, by fine tuning their tackling techniques. And who better to demonstrate, then Seattle Aquarium’s very own, Hawktopus. He can squeeze through any hole in a team’s defensive line, just as long as his helmet fits through!

To properly tackle, Hawktopus follows these steps:

1) Take the head out of the equation by targeting the legs.

2) Use leverage and target the body of the ball carrier to tackle with their shoulders.

3) Wrap up and roll through the tackle.

4) Tackle with efficiency and power.

Interested in learning more about octopuses? Check out the Seattle Aquarium’s octopus fact sheet! #GoHawks

*Based on Pete Carroll’s proper techniques for tackling. No octopuses were harmed in the creation of this promotion.

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Pacific spiny lumpsuckers are back!

Pacific spiny lumpsucker

Pacific spiny lumpsuckersAlways fun to watch and looking a bit like swimming golf balls, Pacific spiny lumpsuckers, Eumicrotremus orbis, have returned to our Puget Sound Fish exhibit. These odd fish get their names from an interesting feature: a sucker disk that they use to adhere to kelp, rock and other surfaces—which helps them resist the strong pull of marine currents. Weak swimmers, their camouflage helps them avoid detection by predators.

Pacific spiny lumpsuckers are found in marine waters from northern Washington to the Bering Sea, along the Aleutian Island chain to Siberia and northern Japan. Their maximum recorded length is about five inches, but they usually average between one and two inches.

Come see these interesting fish in person on your next visit!

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Register now for the Seattle Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on December 6!

The Youth Ocean Advocates program at the Seattle Aquarium is proud to announce that we will host the Seattle Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on Saturday, December 6 from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The teen-planned event is an opportunity for local middle and high school students to learn how to develop and implement their own ocean conservation projects. The goal of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit is for each attendee to come away with the knowledge and resources they need to start their own project to help protect the ocean.

The summit will feature keynote speaker Dr. Fritz Stahr, president and founder of the Ocean Inquiry Project and manager of the Seaglider Fabrication Center at the University of Washington. Fritz has spent his career researching and advocating for the ocean, and will inspire students to do the same.

Throughout the day, students will attend workshops that feature professionals from the field of conservation, each with their own expertise. Our schedule of workshops and presenters include:

  • Public Speaking—Jim Wharton, Seattle Aquarium
  • Volunteer Support—Katrina Bettis, Seattle Aquarium
  • Art & Conservation—Kate Burnley, Seattle Aquarium
  • Social Media—Andrew Bleiman, ZooBorns
  • Journalism & Conservation—Bryn Nelson, Freelance Journalist
  • Fundraising & Grants—Liz Exell, Seattle Aquarium
  • Working with the Government—Steve Mashuda, Earthjustice
  • Marine Debris—Jimmie Pasch, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance
  • Citizen Science – Nicole Ivey, Seattle Aquarium
  • Climate Change—Eli Weiss, Woodland Park Zoo
  • Organizational Leadership—Sean Russell, Stow-It-Don’t-Throw-It Project
  • Education about Conservation—Kate Schmiett, Environmental Science Center
  • Communicating Science—Heather Galindo, UW’s COMPASS

At the end of the summit, each student will put together an action plan for their own ocean conservation project. Following the event, attendees will be able to apply for $200 seed grants from the Youth Ocean Conservation team and the Seattle Aquarium’s Youth Philanthropy Fund. Our hope is that students leave with a plan for action, the tools necessary to implement that plan, and the support they need to make a difference.

The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit will take place at the Seattle Aquarium on December 6. Registration opens at 8:30am, with the summit starting promptly at 9:30am. Due to space limitations, the event is limited to the first 100 students who sign up. Breakfast snacks and lunch will be provided. There is a $15 registration fee. For more information, and to register, visit SeattleAquarium.org/YOCS.

Please contact aquateens@seattleaquarium.org with any questions.


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A fond, sad farewell to northern fur seal Isaac

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.

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