A Pacific Harbor Seal born at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is strong and healthy but needs to gain a layer of blubber before it can go on exhibit in a few weeks, according to its keepers. The pup, a male, is in an off-exhibit area with his mother, eight-year-old Shila.
A layer of blubber is important so the pup can regulate his own body temperature.
“Shila is showing wonderful maternal instincts,” zoo general curator Karen Goodrowe Beck said. “She’s pretty calm. She’s a great mom.”
The pups’ father is Q, a 14-year-old male who spent about a year at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on a breeding loan from the Seattle Aquarium. He returned to Seattle last month.
Right now the pup looks bigger than he is. He weighs only 23 pounds, which is just 12% of Shila’s 180 pounds. As an adult, he could weigh up to 375 pounds.
Pacific Harbor Seals are found north of the equator in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. On the West Coast, they range from Alaska to Baja California. They live in near-shore coastal waters and frequent rocky islands, sandy beaches, mudflats, bays and estuaries. Pacific Harbor Seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
See more photos of the pup below the fold.