The Department of Ocean Sciences is announcing the death of Jamie the seal on Friday, Oct. 11.
Daryl Jones, supervisor at the seal facility, said a post-mortem was done on Friday with no cause of death found.
He was fine on Thursday, so this is a shock, said Mr. Jones. Tissue samples will now be analyzed, which may indicate a cause.
Jamie, a male harp seal, was born at the Ocean Sciences Centre on March 16, 1994. Currently the university has four remaining seals in residence: Babette, Jamies mother, who is approximately 35 years old, Tyler, 23, and their pups Lenny, 13, and Deane, 11. Life expectancy in the wild for harp seals is 20-30 years.
Each of the seals has a very different personality, said Mr. Jones. Jamie was very sensitive, a tad high-strung and easily startled, and picky about his fish. If a few scales were out of place when he took a herring in his teeth, he would refuse it, waiting for a perfect herring.
We are fortunate to have a very good survival rate with the seals, but all living things will die at some time, he added. Jamie will be missed.
The Ocean Sciences Centre is the only facility in the world with resident harp seals in an enrichment environment. Seal programs over the years have been related to behavioural studies, psychological studies pertaining to life processes and functions specific to harp seals and seal husbandry, involving the general care and maintenance of seals with application of scientific principles.
The seals are one of the main attractions of the facilitys Public Education Program, which sees thousands of tourists and local residents drop by annually. The seal viewing platform is accessible year-round.