The Alaska SeaLife Center Mourns the Passing of Harbor Seal, Snapper
May 9, 2018

Seward, Alaska (May 8, 2018) The Alaska SeaLife Center is saddened to announce the passing of Snapper, a 33-year-old harbor seal who was one of the Center’s original marine mammal residents. Snapper was recently humanely euthanized following a rapid decline due to age-related complications.

In the wild, harbor seals can live as long as 30 years. At 33, Snapper was well into his geriatric years for his species. As a result of his mature age, staff monitored his health closely and addressed various age-related issues since he outlived a normal life expectancy. While veterinarians treated his chronic issues like cataracts and arthritis over the years, these ailments worsened with age. Dr. Kathy Woodie, ASLC veterinarian states, “Providing veterinary care for marine mammals can be very challenging, especially as we innovate to manage the issues that accompany our geriatric patients. From eye drops to ultrasounds, Snapper has been the bravest harbor seal patient, and he will be sorely missed.”

Snapper was born at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut June 21, 1984 and resided there with other harbor seals and grey seals until 1985. He moved to two other aquariums before being permanently placed at the Alaska SeaLife Center in 1998. A month before the Center opened, Snapper arrived with 3 other harbor seals and lived at ASLC for almost exactly 20 years.

Over the years the Alaska SeaLife Center has participated in harbor seal research. Starting in 1998, Snapper played an integral role in an investigative study on the decline of harbor seals in the Gulf of Alaska. At the time, theharbor seal population in Alaska had reportedly decreased by 90 percent at Tugidak Island, near Kodiak.

Snapper was the largest and most dominant harbor seal at the Center and sired four offspring – Tongass, Kaya, Kordelia, and Kobuk. Kordelia, also known as Kordi, still resides at the Center, and like Snapper is often a part of the Marine Mammal Encounter. Snapper was one of the original seals that helped develop this behind the scenes program where visitors learn more about the species up close. Snapper is also known for his talents as a "Creative Critter" painter. At ASLC puffins and harbor seals paint canvas as part of regular enrichment.

About Harbor Seals

Harbor seals are one of the most abundant pinnipeds in the Northern hemisphere.Their populations are relatively stable worldwide, but have shown declines of around 80% over the past 30 years in the arctic regions. They frequent estuaries and intertidal zones and will haul out on sandbars, rocky shores, mudflats, log rafts, piers and ice floes.

About the ASLC

Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit


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