Go nose-to-nose with seals at Seattle Aquarium

  • By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
  • Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:22pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Barney, Q and Siku snagged one of the best condos in Seattle.

Their new digs have killer waterfront views and an indoor pool.

The only thing they don’t have is privacy.

Visitors to the Seattle Aquarium get a front-row view of the three harbor seals’ living room without getting wet.

The $6.5 million addition was completed earlier this month. Gone is the chain-link fence previously sealing the habitat.

Clear acrylic walls offer a unique glimpse of the roly-poly whiskered mammals doing their thing above and below the water.

These aren’t showbiz seals. They don’t bounce balls off their noses or jump through rings. They eat fish and swim around. When tired, they kick back on the dry rocks — “haul out,” as it’s known in seal speak.

The project expanded the seals’ lounge, pool and the Pier 60 boardwalk.

“It’s a better experience for them and for us,” aquarium spokeswoman Laura Austin said.

Benches seat 100 people or three classrooms of schoolchildren.

During the three daily shows, trainers tell about the importance of seals to Puget Sound and entertain questions. For the seals, it’s a free lunch of fish and sometimes a tooth brushing afterwards.

“They are trained to participate in their own health care,” Austin said.

Here’s who’s who: Barney is a spotted silver-gray 28-year-old male. Q is a dark-colored 14-year-old male. Eight-year-old Siku, a petite gray-and-black female, is on breeding loan from Point Defiance Zoo &Aquarium in Tacoma

During the nine month remodel, the seals stayed at Point Defiance Zoo.

For Q, it was a working vacation.

“While there, Q impregnated two of their harbor seals, and two pups were born in recent weeks,” Austin said. “That’s good. It’s a cooperative breeding program.”

Very cooperative, it seems.

Will Siku be next?

Seattle Aquarium

The aquarium is at 1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59, Seattle. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (exhibits closie at 6 p.m.).

Admission: Adults $21.95; youth, ages 4 to 12, $14.95. Children 3 and younger are admitted free.

Harbor seal shows: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. An interpreter is on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Talks and feedings at the fur seal and sea otter habitats are at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

For more information: www.seattleaquarium.org or call 206-386-4300.

Also at the aquarium

  • Window on Washington Waters: A 20-by-40 foot tank in the lobby is home to about 800 fish and invertebrates indigenous to local waters. It is designed to replicate the Neah Bay seascape. Divers answer questions in sessions at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. daily.
  • Family Activity Center: Story time at 11 a.m. daily, with marine-themed stories.
  • Life on the Edge: Visitors can get their fingers wet in the touch tanks where they can stroke a sea cucumber and feel the prickly spines of a sea urchin. Meet the octopus sessions are at noon and 4 p.m. daily.
  • Dome Room: The undersea dome is like being in a fish tank. Salmon, lingcod, sharks, rockfish, sturgeon and skates circle the dome. Divers feed the fish at 1:30 p.m. daily.

More in Life

Shrimp and grits, rendered healthful and Italian? We’re in.

This recipe features a sauce made with olive oil, tomatoes and herbs instead of cheese and cream.

UFO at Paine Field playground was left by an artist — not aliens

The flying saucer at community park in Everett is a cosmic attraction.

Chef James Abbott makes Buck’s peanut butter pie at Buck’s American Cafe in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fur & Feathers: 4 lovable dogs need homes

Meet Lola, Sadie, Scooter and Chance

Sweet baking tips: How to rescue brown sugar that’s turned hard

Soften the rock solid stuff, then try this recipe for chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt.

Valentina Bogdanova, 74, loves working in the gardens that nearly surround the Bakerview Apartments, where she has lived for 20 years. The units are among 16 affordable and subsidized properties leased to seniors by the Everett Housing Authority. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
As real estate booms, those with fixed-incomes need help

When senior citizens get housing, they are able to ‘age in place.’

Melania Trump to donate inaugural ball gown to Smithsonian

Melania Trump is donating her inaugural ball gown… Continue reading

Harry Potter exhibit marks 20th anniversary of first book

Many of the things Harry Potter fans thought were imaginary were actually based in fact — or folklore.

Visiting Germany’s Lutherland, birthplace of Reformation

The sights include the church where the first Protestant service took place in 1521.

Most Read