Welcome Kobuk the Harbor Seal

The Alaska SeaLife Center is pleased to announce the birth of a male harbor seal pup on June 27. The pup was born to two of the Center’s harbor seals, Atuun and Snapper.

This is eight-year-old Atuun’s second pup and second uneventful pregnancy. Her first pup, Kordelia, was born last year on June 8, World Oceans Day.

Staff monitored the experienced mom and her pup, allowing them to bond for two weeks before getting close enough to learn that the pup was male. “Atty is a protective mother.We could tell by the pup’s obvious weight gain that he was receiving the nutrition he needed, so we chose to be hands off,” said Brett Long, the Center’s Husbandry Director.

Kobuk the harbor seal.

Rapid weight gain is normal for harbor seals, who normally double their weight by the time they are weaned at four to six weeks of age. Long estimates that the pup weighed 22 pounds (10 kg) at birth, and now tops the scales at 66 pounds (30 kg).

“The pup is thriving and is behaving normally,” said Lisa Hartman, Husbandry Manager, who has monitored the pup’s progress over the past four weeks. “He is playful with toys and ice and very curious during training sessions.”

Center staff members were invited to submit Alaskan names for the pup. After the mammal staff narrowed the options to three, a popular vote by employees, interns and volunteers selected “Kobuk” as the pup’s name. Kobuk means “big river” in Inuit, seemingly appropriate for such a large pup.

Kobuk is expected to make his public debut in early August. The announcement of his debut on the seal habitat will be made on the Alaska SeaLife Center Facebook page.