Northern Fur Seal Reunites with an Old Companion in Seattle

Chiidax, a rescued northern fur seal who has lived at the Aquarium for years, transferred to the Seattle Aquarium to reunite with an old companion. Upon his arrival in 2013, Chiidax, born in Alaska, lived with a small group of fur seals, including a pup named Flaherty at the New England Aquarium.

“Flaherty and Chiidax spent some of their early years together playing and jousting (akin to puppies wrestling). Because of this familiarity, Chiidax is an ideal companion for him,” says Marie Allen, senior marine mammal trainer at the Aquarium.

Chiidax at the New England Aquarium. Photo credit: New England Aquarium

In 2015, Flaherty and another fur seal, Leu, were moved from the New England Aquarium to the Seattle Aquarium. But Leu, who had a seizure disorder, passed at the pandemic’s beginning. Since then, Flaherty has been the lone fur seal at the Seattle facility.

“That’s why we’re adding Chiidax as a companion animal for Flaherty. He’s been alone much longer than we’d like,” says Mariko Bushcamp, animal care specialist and lead of the northern fur seals at the Seattle Aquarium.

Flaherty at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo by Grant Abel


Flaherty at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo by Grant Abel.

With just eight northern fur seals in human care in the United States, representatives from the New England Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium, and Mystic Aquarium stay in close contact to collaboratively share information about fur seal welfare, veterinary care, and breeding efforts. Since the teams are in constant communication about their fur seal population, the group decided that due to his personality, temperament, and history with Flaherty, Chiidax would make the best companion.

Chiidax at the New England Aquarium.

“He is probably the most charismatic seal that we have,” Allen says. “Due to his time in Alaska in close contact with humans at such a young age, Chiidax has a massive affinity for people. He interacts with passersby through the glass, and he very much recognizes the individual faces of New England Aquarium staff members.

Though Chiidax will be well taken care of, his departure was bittersweet for Aquarium staff and visitors.

But for Flaherty, who has “a very chill temperament,” according to Bushcamp, Chiidax’s arrival is a welcome change. The two seals, who met and joyfully jousted together many years ago, are finally together again.