Seals and sea lions stay cool amid summer heat


Staff provide enrichment, control water temperatures amid heat wave

Sea lion in a water tank
California sea lion Zoe participates in water play and enjoys a snow cone. CREDIT: New England Aquarium

BOSTON, MASS. (Aug. 5, 2022) – With temperatures remaining in the 90s, staffers at the New England Aquarium are helping the seals and sea lions stay cool.

At their home on Boston’s Central Wharf, the Atlantic harbor seals live in an open-air exhibit space on the front plaza, while the California sea lions and Northern fur seal reside in the open-air New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center. On Friday, the animals played with homemade snow cones and interacted with toys that promote enrichment. Trainers also engaged the animals in water play with sprayers, hoses, and sprinklers.

The Marine Mammal, Facilities, and Environmental Quality teams work together in monitoring the exhibit conditions around the clock and making adjustments as necessary. The life support systems in place include heat exchangers, which keep the animals’ water temperature between the target range of 58-63 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

“In addition to our mechanical systems, we also check the water temperature frequently, keeping an eye on the data and monitoring for trends,” said Dr. Nina Fischer, Director of Environmental Quality.

The Marine Mammal Center has air conditioned behind-the-scenes space for the animals to access as well.

The New England Aquarium provides care to more than 10,000 animals on Central Wharf, with a dedicated team of more than 70 Animal Care staffers who ensure the essential health and well-being of those who call the Aquarium home. The Aquarium employs a full-time veterinary staff with suite of veterinary equipment, from ultrasound to digital radiology and endoscopy, to provide on-site medical care.


Pam Bechtold Snyder –, 617-686-5068