The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk is mourning the loss of one of its longtime residents – Susie the harbor seal.
Susie passed away overnight Friday into Saturday. She was 43, believed to be the second-oldest seal in the United States.
Susie was a resident of the aquarium from the day it opened in 1988.
“We’re always saddened by the loss of any animal at the Aquarium,” said Dr. Brian Davis, president of The Maritime Aquarium in a press release. “But, as one of two seals that have been with us since the beginning, as our oldest seal and as the mother of two of the seals we have had here, Susie will always have special place in our hearts. She was the grande dame of our seal exhibit.”
Susie was born in May 1973 and abandoned by her mother when less than a month old. She was rescued on Sable Island, Nova Scotia. She participated in laboratory development of prophylactic heartworm medication, which was first used on canines and later approved for seals.
She lived in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, Mass. before moving to the Mystic Aquarium. When the Maritime Center opened in 1988, Susie and her daughter Tillie (born in 1986) both moved to the Norwalk location.
A necropsy will be conducted at the University of Connecticut to determine the cause of death.
Harbor seals typically live to be about 15 years old in the wild, but life expectancy for those in zoos and aquariums rises into the 20s and 30s. The oldest living harbor seal is believed to be 45 and resides at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wis.