Two newborn harbor seal pups greeted the public for the first time at Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on Thursday.
The pups were born earlier this month within eight days of each other. Eight-year-old harbor seal Shila gave birth to a male pup on June 2, and nine-year-old Qilak had a female pup on June 10.
The seals and their pups have been living behind the scenes as the pups nursed and gained weight. New pups need time to bond with their mothers and gain a blubber layer to regulate their temperatures in the water. Both pups are already swimming well.
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium now has six harbor seals: Blackie, 37; Louise, 36; Shila, Qilak and the two pups.
Some facts about harbor seals:
- Harbor seals' specific name is Phoca vitulina, which means "sea calf" or "sea dog"
- 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 are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Harbor seals can dive up to 1,200 feet and remain underwater for about 30 minutes while hunting; they can sleep underwater, too, and come up to breathe every five to 10 minutes without completely waking up
- Males can be 150 to 375 pounds and 5 to 6 feet long; females generally weigh between 100 and 200 pounds and are 4 to 5 feet long
- In the wild, harbor seals live up to be about 25 years old
- Harbor seals' gestation period is 9 to 11 months and involves delayed implantation of a fertilized egg
- Seals generally have one pup a year in the wild