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December 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Seattle Aquarium mourns the loss of a fur seal

A northern fur seal in declining health was euthanized at the Seattle Aquarium. The seal, named Al, was 19-years-old.

“Losing an old friend is always difficult, but Al had a wonderful history that we will always be remembered,” Traci Belting, marine mammal curator at the Aquarium said in a news release.

The fur seal was discovered in a cow pasture in Hoquiam in 1993. The pup had become disoriented in a storm and veered far from the ocean. The seal was named Al after the then new vice president Al Gore, a noted environmentalist.

Because he was so small, the National Marine Fisheries Service said Al was unfit to be returned to the wild, so he was sent to the Seattle Aquarium, where he lived longer than any other male fur seal there.

He eventually picked up the nickname, “Big Al” and sired a pup, Isaac, who is now 11 and on loan to the breeding program at Boston’s New England Aquarium.

The Aquarium said it is rare for male fur seals to live past their mid-teens.  During his life, Big Al was valuable to researchers, who studied his food intake and weight changes.

In recent weeks, it was difficult for Al to eat and he was unable to haul himself out of the water.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: fur seal, Hoquiam, National Marine Fisheries

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