The Aquarium of the Pacific is pleased to announce that one of their Harbor Seals, named Shelby, gave birth to a pup on April 20. Shelby is one of the Aquarium’s original animals and was two-years-old when the nonprofit facility opened in 1998.
Most seals give birth to young starting at four to five-years-of-age. So at twenty-two years old, Shelby is considered a mature mom. This is her third pup. Shelby gave birth to her first pup, a female named Bixby, in April 2012 at age seventeen and her second, a male named Toby, in 2013. Bixby was moved to a zoo in the Midwest in 2015 with other female Harbor Seals, and Toby is slated to move to an aquarium in the southeast in May. Troy, the Aquarium of the Pacific’s only male Harbor Seal, is the father of all three pups and has lived at the Aquarium since 2007.
“Shelby has had a normal, healthy pregnancy, and with her success at giving birth to two pups here at the Aquarium in recent years, we were cautiously optimistic about the arrival of her third pup. It is particularly special to the Aquarium that one of our charter animals has given birth to the next generation, in the year of our twentieth anniversary,” said Dudley Wigdahl, Aquarium Curator of Mammals and Birds.
Shelby and her female pup are currently in the holding area next to the Seal and Sea Lion Habitat at the Aquarium. The shades will at times be open and closed periodically to allow for privacy for the mother and pup to bond.
Photo Credits: Aquarium of the Pacific
New mom, Shelby, is a Pacific Harbor Seal. Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) can be found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, from the southern coast of Alaska to the northern portion of Baja, Mexico.
Their color and markings are unique to each seal, like a human’s fingerprints. Some have light-colored fur of almost white to silver or gray with darker circular or ring marks. Others have darker fur with light-colored markings. They range in size from 4 to 6.6 feet long and weigh between 110 to 375 pounds (males tend to be larger than females).
They may spend up to 85 percent of the day diving for prey, primarily schooling and bottom-dwelling fishes such as herring, surfperch, rockfish, salmon, and hake. They are also partial to some invertebrates, including crustaceans, and they get the water they need from their food. They can live about twenty-five to thirty years in the wild and longer under human care. Harbor Seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. While the species is not currently listed as endangered or threatened, Harbor Seals are sensitive to human encroachment.