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New seal, Medusa, at Aquarium of Niagara


Wed, Apr 12th 2017 06:05 pm

The Aquarium of Niagara has acquired a 2-year-old gray seal named Medusa.

She was rescued off the coast of Long Island in Riverhead on March 25, 2016. Medusa was found stranded and, because of poor body condition, was transported to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation for rehabilitation and medical treatment. During examinations, it was discovered Medusa has bilateral cataracts and was deemed visually impaired in both eyes and nonreleasable.

Medusa was transported to the Aquarium of Niagara on Jan. 6 for her permanent placement in Rescue Harbor. While at the rehabilitation facility, Medusa was taught various husbandry behaviors, such as taking eye drops to treat her cataracts, flipper present and tactile.

Since joining the aquarium, Medusa has continued to learn more husbandry behaviors. She is being trained with a target pole, which allows her to follow the tapping of the pole and her trainers' voice as commands.

Medusa is currently 90 pounds and will reach 300 pounds when fully grown.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to bring in a young, gray seal like Medusa, not just for the aquarium, but primarily for the public. They will be able to watch her grow and develop further husbandry behaviors," said Richelle Swem, curator of animal care.

The Aquarium of Niagara is becoming a premier facility for blind seals. Staffers said it is a long but rewarding process to work with blind animals. Medusa is joined by Sandy, a harbor seal affected by cataracts, and by Della, a 26-year-old gray seal also blind from cataracts. The aquarium has the privilege of being one of 12 institutions in North America who house gray seals.

The Aquarium of Niagara is located at 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls.

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