Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium Releases Rescued Harbor Seal Pups

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From the shores of Rhode Island to North Carolina and Alaska, Mystic Aquarium, in Mystic, Connecticut, works to care for marine animals in need.

On the morning of October 5, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program staff and volunteers released two Harbor Seal pups, Lavender and Bluebell, at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, RI.

Both pups were abandoned, shortly after birth, and were rescued by Marine Mammals of Maine. Lavender, a female Harbor Seal, was rescued in Waldoboro, ME and was transferred to Mystic Aquarium for rehabilitation on May 18. Bluebell, a male Harbor Seal, was rescued in Scarborough, ME and arrived at Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic on August 3.

Following months of rehabilitation, the dynamic duo, at approximately 4–5 months old, were deemed healthy and prepared for their release into the wild and a life at sea.

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Mystic Aquarium Harbor Seal Release Lavendar Blue Bell Group Shot 3Photo & Video Credits: Mystic Aquarium (Images 1-3: Release day for Lavendar and Blue Bell on Oct 5 / Video: Release day for four seal pups on Oct 20)

Just three-weeks-later, on October 20, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program released four more Harbor Seal pups. The four Harbor Seals (Flax, Larkspur, Sunflower and Buttercup) were rescued by Marine Mammals of Maine before being transferred to Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic.

Flax was rescued from Bustin’s Island, Freeport, ME, and was considered abandoned shortly after birth, arriving at Mystic Aquarium on May 28. Larkspur was rescued in Harpswell, ME, and Sunflower was rescued from Isle of Springs, ME. Both pups were also considered abandoned shortly after birth and arrived at Mystic Aquarium on June 1. Buttercup was rescued in Little Diamond Island, Portland, ME, and was found malnourished and suffering from pneumonia, arriving at Mystic Aquarium on July 15.

Following months of rehabilitation, the four pups, now approximately 4–5 months old, were deemed healthy and prepared for life at sea.

Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program supports animals in need and educates the public about the marine environment and its inhabitants. The public is encouraged to call the Aquarium’s 24-hour hotline at 860.572.5955 ext. 107 if they encounter a marine mammal or sea turtle in Conn., R.I. or Fishers Island, N.Y. Mystic Aquarium is a founding member of the Northeast Region Stranding Network. This network in comprised of organizations along the eastern seacoast, which have facilities and trained staff to care for sick and injured animals. Marine Mammals are protected species, so only groups and facilities authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service are permitted to handle these animals.

Rescued Harbor Seal Amputee Successfully Rehabilitated at Mystic Aquarium


Starting on March 22, this 8-month-old female Harbor Seal pup will be seen by the public at Mystic Aquarium’s Aquatic Animal Study Center for a limited time, after seven months of rehabilitation and a flipper amputation. "She has a really inquisitive and interested personality and she is very interactive with the environment around her," said Mystic Aquarium veterinarian Allison Tuttle, who supervises the pup's treatment and care.

Known as Pup 49 because of her rehab ID number, she was admitted to Mystic Aquarium’s Seal Rescue Clinic on July 16, 2012, after being rescued by the New England Aquarium 10 days earlier. Having been attacked by an older seal, she was terribly weak when found, with wounds all over her body. She was approximately one to two months old at the time, and diagnosed with a respiratory ailment  and a swollen left rear flipper. Despite intensive treatment for the flipper, the little pup developed a life-threatening infection in her bone and ankle joint that continued to get worse with time.

On November 26, 2012, Mystic Aquarium’s veterinary team performed surgery to amputate Pup 49’s infected flipper. The surgery was successful, but she was deemed non-releasable by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service because she is a weaker, less agile swimmer and requires more effort to haul out of the water compared to seals with two rear flippers.


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Photo Credit: Mystic Aquarium

Read more on this pup's story after the fold:

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Mystic Aquarium Visits Baby Sloth at Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica


Is this baby Three-toed Sloth smiling? Only three weeks old, it seemingly posed for photographer Patrick Shea, part of the team representing Mystic Aquarium, Nautilus Live and The JASON Project. They were in Costa Rica the week of March 19, researching for a new Mystic Aquarium exhibit to open next year. The group was also scouting locations for live programming through JASON and Nautilus. Along the way they made a visit to the Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica, where they rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned Sloths, and met the little one.

There are both Two-toed and Three-toed Sloths. Both are built for living their entire life - even when having babies - hanging in the trees, aided by those long, powerful claws. They are so sedentary that moss grows on their coat (which aids them as camouflage while living among the leaves)! This has won them the informal title of worlds slowest mammal. They sleep from 15-20 hours a day, and even while awake, they move very little, unless threatened by a predator.  At night they eat the trees leaves, shoots, and fruit and get almost all of their water from juicy plants.

You can read more ZooBorns posts about sloths from this sanctuary HERE

Photo Credit: Patrick Shea/Sea Research Foundation

Two African Penguins Hatch at Mystic Aquarium


Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium announced the recent hatching of two African Penguin chicks.  The chicks hatched on February 1 and February 10 and are growing quickly.  The younger chick weighs 281 grams, and the older chick weighs 696 grams, demonstrating the exponential growth seen in the first few weeks of a Penguin chick’s life.



Photo Credits: Mystic Aquarium

During the first 40 days of life, Penguin chicks cannot maintain their body heat, so they stay warm by tucking underneath their parents.  When the very vocal chicks announce that they’re hungry, mom and dad oblige by offering food.  Once the chicks are weaned at about 50 days old, keepers will begin training the chicks to accept food from their hands.  You can watch all the action on the aquarium’s African Penguin webcam.  

The chicks will fledge at 75 to 100 days of age.  At that time, their fluffy down will be replaced with the brown and white feathers of juvenile Penguins, and they’ll be introduced to the 26 adult Penguins in the flock.  The chicks’ genders will be determined using a DNA test when they’re about six months old.   

African Penguins are an endangered species, and their breeding is managed by the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

See more photos below the fold.

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What's Inside a Mermaid's Purse? These Baby Skates, at the Mystic Aquarium

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Photo Credit: Cheryl Miller

Once in awhile something so unique comes along, we only have one picture, and this is one of those times.

What is this? And is this a face looking back at you? These are baby Winter Skates, found in the Mermaids Purse exhibit at Connecticut's Mystic Aquarium. Skates are flat, cartilaginous fish, that very in size and shape, from rounded to diamond-shaped. They are found in most parts of the world, from tropical to near-Arctic waters and from the shallows to depths of more than 8,900 feet (2,700 meters). The two dots that look like eyes in the picture above are spiracles that bring water into the gills for respiration. You can then see the mouth, gills, abdominal cavity and pelvic fins, which they use to maneuver in the water.

Skates have slow growth rates and therefore reproduction is low, since they take time to sexually mature. As a result they are vulnerable to overfishing, and hence are suffering reduced population levels in many parts of the world. In 2010, Greenpeace International added the Barndoor Skate, Bottlenose Skate, Spotback Skate, and Maltese Skate to its seafood red list (a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries).

CLICK HERE to see a fascinating video on the aquarium's website about the actual Mermaid's Purses - a kind of external womb where they grow and from which they hatch. Watch how Keepers carefully create little windows in the purses so guests can witness the development of these animals before they are ready to come into the world!

Bon Voyage Baby Spooner!


Mystic Aquarium’s animal rescue team released a 6-month-old female Gray Seal named Spooner into the waters of Blue Shutters Town Beach in Charlestown, R.I., on Friday, August 24. Mystic Aquarium rescued Spooner on March 8, 2012, at Breakwater Village in Narragansett, R.I. after finding her with numerous infected wounds on her face and neck and a fractured tooth. She has since recovered after being treated with wound care, antibiotics and dental surgery. Spooner was named in honor of Dr. Tracey Spoon, Mystic Aquarium’s research scientist who passed away unexpectedly in May.






Photo credit: Mystic Aquarium


Orphan Seal Pup Returns Home to the Sea

Since 1976 the Mystic Aquarium's Seal Rescue Clinic has treated over 300 marine mammals from tiny seal pups to stranded whales and released over 160 back into the ocean. Here is the tale of one recent rescue.

On January 25th, the International Fund for Animal Welfare located a lethargic baby gray seal on the beach in Sandwich, Massachusetts and transferred him to the Mystic Rescue Clinic in Connecticut later that day. The pup was only 7 to 10 days old and thought to have been abandoned by his mother.

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While in the Seal Rescue Clinic, the pup was bottlefed and treated with antibiotics due to an elevated white blood cell count. Eventually the pup recovered, reaching a healthy 50 pounds and learning to catch fish on his own.

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On March 25th the pup was released at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, R.I., joyfully returning to the sea.

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Photo credits: Mystic Aquarium  

Orphan Pups Find a Home at the Mystic Aquarium

Three playful sea lion pups, all rescued separately from harbors in Southern California, have found their way to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. The only male pup was originally found malnourished and suffering from pneumonia and was treated and released by the Marine Mammal Center. Unfortunately the little California Sea Lion kept returning to the beach and finding his way to crowds of beach-goers (or them to him). Either way, after three restrandings, it was determined that life at Mystic would be a good fit for the little guy.

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Baby sea lion pup in bucket mystic aquarium 1

Three baby sea lions at aquarium

Check out the pups in high spirits in their new home.

Got a suggestion for a name for the boy or two girls? Submit your suggestions here (and let ZooBorns know if you win!)

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