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Bumper and LuSeal ready to feed at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Photo credit: NOAA/Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Bumper (left) and LuSeal enjoying the sun on the haul-out rocks in their Woods Hole Science Aquarium habitat. Photo credit: NOAA/Woods Hole Science Aquarium

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July 13, 2017
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Woods Hole Science Aquarium Loses Second Harbor Seal

Will Close to the Public July 14 and 15

Bumper, the 10-year-old male harbor seal at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, died of respiratory and heart failure this morning. He became noticeably sick on Monday morning, exhibiting symptoms similar to those of his pool mate, LuSeal, the 15-year old female harbor seal who died last week.

Bumper was attended immediately by marine veterinarians and his long-term caretakers. They treated him around-the-clock over three days, but could not save his life.

The Aquarium is usually open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 AM to 4 PM. However, it will be closed tomorrow, Friday July 14 and Saturday July 15.

“Bumper put up a good fight, and our small staff was there 24/7 to care for him,” said Teri Frady, Chief of Research Communications for NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “People look forward to visiting the Aquarium when they come to Woods Hole and we are sorry to disappoint, but we need time to recoup. I hope visitors will understand and come back to see us another time.”

LuSeal was necropsied and numerous samples taken at that time are out for a variety of laboratory tests. No results have been received yet, so the cause of her death remains unknown. Bumper will be necropsied tomorrow. Similar samples will be taken and tested.

LuSeal and Bumper came to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium through the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Network. They were the first animals to live in the aquarium's modernized seal habitat. LuSeal stranded in 2002 on Cape Cod at just one-month old and never learned to forage for herself in the wild. Bumper stranded as a pup in 2007 on a South Hampton, NY beach after being wounded by a shark. Both seals were subsequently designated unreleasable and in need of a home, which they found at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium.

The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is the nation’s oldest public aquarium. It originated as part of the first permanent marine science laboratory in the village, completed in 1885. Harbor seals have been a regular part of the collection since that time.

Harbor seals at the aquarium help NOAA Fisheries teach people about these animals, what to do around seals that are hauled out on beaches, and how to report a stranded or entangled marine mammal. Over the years the aquarium seals have served as a kind of unofficial mascot for the village of Woods Hole, particularly during the summer months when thousands of people visit.

NOAA Fisheries and the Woods Hole Science Aquarium would like to thank Cape Cod Veterinary Services, Falmouth Hospital, and Falmouth Fire Department for help with emergency blood testing and medical supplies, Yarmouthport-based International Fund for Animal Welfare for veterinary and animal care assistance, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and New England Aquarium for necropsy support.

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(File Modified Jul. 14 2017)