Media Photos and Video:

Video: Rescue Journey:

Video: On Exhibit at NYA Only:

Credits: ©WCS and ©PMMC 

Photos: From PMMC:

Photos: At NYA:

           Credits: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS and © PMMC

Brooklyn, NY – March 5, 2021 – There is a new member of the harbor seal family at the New York Aquarium that is getting a second chance at life after a difficult start. Sidney, a female harbor seal pup, arrived at the aquarium after being rescued as a newborn near Abalone Point in Laguna Beach, CA.

Sidney was discovered alone on a rocky beach in February 2020 with her umbilical cord still attached. She was rescued by the team at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach when the pup’s mother did not appear. Their veterinarians confirmed she was only hours old and likely born prematurely.

Upon arrival at the PMMC, Sidney received around-the-clock care for the first month. These are crucial weeks in the development of a seal as they are normally spent nursing and learning basic survival skills from its mother. Sidney was fed every two hours and slowly gained weight.

Despite efforts by PMMC staff to rehabilitate the young seal for a release back into nature, she didn’t succeed in developing the skills needed to survive in the wild.  The New York Aquarium agreed to provide her with a home upon receiving requests by the PMMC and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Animal care staff from the aquarium spent several days at the PMMC prior to the harbor seal’s shipment to New York in order to develop a bond with the pup. This process was carefully coordinated with PMMC staff so that the transition would be as seamless as possible. Once Sidney was comfortable and trained to voluntarily enter her transport crate, she was ready to travel.

Sidney arrived at the New York Aquarium in November. Animal care staff worked with her every day to ensure she acclimated comfortably to her new environment and would integrate with the rest of the aquarium’s harbor seals safely.

“We are grateful for the excellent care that the rescue team at the PMMC provided Sidney, and we will make sure she is well cared for at the New York Aquarium,” said Craig Piper, Interim Director of the New York Aquarium and WCS Director of City Zoos. “We’re proud to partner with other conservation organizations to help individual animals like Sidney while also working to protect entire species and their habitats around the world.  As New Yorkers come to see Sidney, she will be an endearing ambassador for her species and other marine life, which we believe will have a positive impact on the way people think about and engage with nature.”

Sidney is now living in the Sea Cliffs exhibit at the New York Aquarium where she is continuing to explore her new habitat and interact with the other seals. She has developed a close bond with Murphy, another female harbor seal born at the aquarium last summer, and the two youngsters are active playmates.

Harbor seals are common to New York waters where their numbers are on the rise due to conservation efforts and protections afforded to them by law.