Friday, February 12, 2010

Georgia Aquarium to Debut Four Harbor Seals

Animals will reside in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery

The Georgia Aquarium will soon add four new harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina), two males and two females, into the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery. Beginning Saturday, guests will be able to see the harbor seals at the Georgia Aquarium.

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.

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