August 21, 2012
Bixby, the first seal born at the Aquarium of the Pacific, joined her parents and the other inhabitants of the Seals & Sea Lions Habitat on August 21. The nearly four-month-old harbor seal made her debut and explored her new home, joining her parents, Shelby and Troy.
The Aquarium turned to the City of Long Beach for help in naming the baby seal. City of Long Beach employees suggested names, and Long Beach City Councilmembers voted to select the winner. The name Bixby was submitted by City of Long Beach employee Marina Ohlson Smorick in honor of historical figure Jotham Bixby, “The Father of Long Beach.”
“We are proud of the name our City has given to our first-born seal. When people visit Bixby, we hope they become inspired to help protect our urban ocean,” said Jerry R. Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president & CEO.
The young female seal has been growing behind the scenes and now weighs approximately 50 pounds. When Aquarium biologists moved Bixby into her new permanent home, the seal was immediately met by the other seals and sea lions.
Bixby was born on April 26, 2012 and weighed about 20 pounds at birth. Her mother Shelby came to the Aquarium in 1998. Troy, her father and the Aquarium’s only male harbor seal, came to the Aquarium in 2007.
Female harbor seals typically give birth to young starting at four to five years of age. Shelby, however, is sixteen years old, and this is her first pup. Shortly after birth, the seal pup and mother were moved behind the scenes for bonding and nursing. More recently the pup was introduced to solid foods and began learning behaviors to aid Aquarium biologists in caring for her as preparation for joining the other animals inside the Seal & Sea Lion Habitat.
In addition to seeing Bixby inside the Seals & Sea Lions Habitat, the public also has the chance to help seals and other marine life in local waters by recycling used fishing line in the Aquarium’s new REEL Recycling Display. It is estimated that ingestion of and entanglement in marine debris, including abandoned fishing line, causes the deaths of more than one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. This debris can also cause damage to boat propellers and clog seawater intakes, causing costly engine damage and becoming a safety hazard, according to NOAA. Long Beach Councilmember Gerrie Schipske has been leading efforts to promote the recycling of fishing line to help local wildlife and boaters.