Harbour seal Loki, 29, of Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, died this week at the Fundy Discovery Aquarium.Photo: Courtesy of Huntsman Marine Science Centre / Twitter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2022 at 21:03

By Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A 29-year-old Saint Andrews resident who died of declining health is being mourned by the community. He leaves behind his son, Snorkel.

Loki – a harbour seal who saw more than 390,000 visitors during his time at the Fundy Discovery Aquarium – has died, the Huntsman Marine Science Centre reported in a tweet Monday.

Laura Barrett, of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, said Loki lived a long life compared to the average harbour seal’s lifespan in the wild. That lifespan can be between 15 and 25 years.

Loki was well-fed, had regular veterinary care, and unlike seals in the wild, he didn’t have to worry about sharks, said Barrett, education and outreach supervisor and youth education specialist for the centre.

While he didn’t have sharks in his home – a tank – Loki did have a tank mate – his 16-year-old son Snorkel, Barrett said, adding Snorkel has been a good boy and eating his fish properly even in Loki’s absence.

“He is Loki’s son, we know that,” Barrett said. “Whether they knew they were father and son, that we don’t know. But they did know each other as tank mates, buddies, so they were very close to each other.” 

Born at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in 1993, Loki moved to Storybook Gardens in London, Ont., at a young age before returning to the Huntsman in 2009 with his son Snorkel, the centre tweeted out Monday.

“Loki was very gentle and curious – often playfully chasing the diver’s fins during tank cleaning and ‘standing’ on the bottom to spy on our aquarist while she worked downstairs,” the tweet reads.

Barrett added Loki loved his fish and would often chill on the deck just how seals do in the wild.

A flood of messages and condolences have come in since the word went out about Loki’s death, she said.

Shauna Sands, conservation coordinator at ACAP Saint John, said seals are social and curious animals, and out in the wild, they sometimes may swim behind you following your kayak if you are quiet enough.

Sands shared a connection with Loki, too, noting she has visited the aquarium to say ‘hi’ to the seals in the past.

Seals are usually seen in multiple numbers due to being social animals, she said, but the ones at the aquarium are breed as captive seals and wouldn’t know what it is to be out in the wild.

Loki’s health had been declining as he aged, and plans had been to put him to rest permanently on Monday, Barrett said, but Loki passed overnight Sunday before that could happen. 

Sands expressed her condolences about Loki, calling it a “devastating loss” for the aquarium.

“We will continue to process and mourn the loss of Loki in the coming days at the Fundy Discovery Aquarium,” the marine centre said on Twitter.

This item reprinted with permission from Telegraph-Journal, Saint John, New Brunswick