Mystic Aquarium is home to two new Steller sea lions.
The aquarium is one of just two facilities in the nation that houses them.
Eden, 17 and her daughter Perl, 2, were recently transported from Alaska to bring the aquarium’s Steller sea lion population to four.
Mystic Aquarium is part of the international Steller Sea Lion Consortium to help better understand population declines and threat to the species’ survival.
Steller sea lions are the largest species of sea lions in the world.
Mystic Aquarium’s Curator of Marine Mammals and Birds, Laurie Macha, accompanied Eden and Perl from Alaska SeaLife Center. She said Eden weighs around 400 pounds; Perl is just around 200. But some Steller males can weigh close to 2,500 pounds.
Eden was at Mystic Aquarium from 2008 to 2010 before she was sent to Alaska SeaLife Center to participate in a breeding program, Macha said. There she produced four pups.
“So she really helped to contribute towards the understanding of the reproductive process of Steller sea lions and what may be happening with them and why the decline,” Macha said. “A lot of them are not surviving long enough to breed.”
Part of that has to do with fish availability, according to Macha.
Steller sea lions are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as near threatened. The National Marine Fisheries Service lists the Western population of Steller sea lions in Alaska as endangered, according to Mystic Aquarium.
Laura Midura, of North Granby, took her kids to see Astro and Sitka, the two other Steller sea lions at Mystic Aquarium.
In the coming weeks, Eden and Perl will eventually assimilate with the two 12-year-old Stellers.
“It’s nice to be able to see these animals and to learn about them,” Midura said.
“I think it’s amazing just being able to see animals that you probably wouldn’t see in the wild or you have to travel so far,” said Andrew Koval, who visited from Philadelphia.