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Longboat Key Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 5 years ago

Sea lion exhibit is furry first for Mote

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Three Patagonian sea lions are about to make a major splash at Mote Marine Aquarium.

Stella, Rose and Kitty will make their grand debut at the aquarium Saturday, Dec. 1, in “Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge.”

Their arrival represents a flip for Mote — and we’re not just talking about their foreflippers.

These three sea lions will be the first furry marine mammals to visit Mote’s aquarium. But they won’t be the last.

They’re under the permanent care of the Myakka City-based Squalus Inc., a licensed organization that provides long-term care to beached sea lions that cannot return to the wild because of age and injuries.

Other Patagonian and Californian sea lions under Squalus Inc. care will be featured during the course of the exhibit, which runs through April 28.

“We want to offer our visitors something new and fun, while helping them learn about animals that that face some of the same challenges as marine life in our own backyard,” wrote Hayley Rutger, Mote public relations specialist in an email to the Longboat Observer.

“Sea lions are truly cool animals — especially when you see them up close, as visitors will at Mote — and they run into some of the same problems as local marine mammals. Mote has a long history of conservation-focused research related to marine mammals — especially dolphins and manatees — and the kinds of complications that can arise when they live close to humans, like entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris.”

The exhibit will include special, narrated demonstrations that show off sea lions’ intelligence and natural abilities at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. daily. The exhibit is included in regular admission.

For information, call 388-4441.

Sea lion stars
Meet the first three sea lions that will be featured in Mote’s “Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge.”

Stella, 6, was found stranded on a beach in Puerto Rico after she apparently escaped from a facility in the Dominican Republic. The National Marine Fisheries Service subsequently placed her at Squalus Inc.

Rose, 4, is full of energy and smart as they come. She is known for learning new behaviors quickly.

Kitty, 3, like Rose, also picks up quickly on new behaviors and loves showing off her training skills.

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