The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is mourning the loss of its two beloved harbor seals, Bumper and LuSeal.
They died within 11 days of each other, and the causes of their deaths are unknown, officials said. The aquarium announced that it would be closed Friday and Saturday to allow time for the staff to recoup.
The two seals came from different states — LuSeal was stranded on Cape Cod in 2002 when she was just a month old, and Bumper was found on a Southhampton, N.Y., beach after being wounded by a shark in 2007 — and fate led them to live together at the aquarium’s modernized seal habitat, where they swam, ate, and sunned themselves, as seals are wont to do.
“They had a good life here,” said Teri Frady, a spokeswoman for NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
But things took a sudden turn when LuSeal became sick on the first day of July. Marine veterinarians and her longtime caretakers attended to her throughout the night to no avail, as her health declined rapidly and she succumbed to respiratory and heart failure July 2.
The following week, her poolmate Bumper fell ill and began showing similar symptoms. Frady said Bumper received round-the-clock care but ultimately died of respiratory and heart failure on the morning of July 13 after putting up “a good fight,” Frady said in a statement on the NOAA website.
Aquarium officials are now waiting to receive lab tests and necropsy results that might shed some light on what caused the seals’ deaths. Frady said their food was also being tested.
The aquarium is usually open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will resume those regular hours of operation after the two-day closure.
“People look forward to visiting the Aquarium when they come to Woods Hole and we are sorry to disappoint, but we need time to recoup,” Frady’s statement read. “I hope visitors will understand and come back to see us another time.”Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.