The Seal Tank


Photo by Shawn Hayward

The Ocean Sciences Centre, Logy Bay

Seaworld is great if you want to see animals do tricks, but to catch a glimpse of a real research facility, bike (or drive) to Logy Bay and Memorial University’s Ocean Sciences Centre, where you’ll see seals dive and splash and bask in the sun, and it’s absolutely free.

Take a right from Logy Bay Road onto Marine Drive, then another right onto Marine Lab Drive, and you’ll see a circular structure with water tanks and a scenic view of the ocean.

People used to be able to take guided tours inside the laboratory until it was cancelled for safety reasons. Now visitors are limited to seeing the tanks outside, where they can get about 10 feet away from the seals.

Danielle Nichols, the centre’s research marketing manager, says the educational component of the centre is important.

“People learn about local marine life,” she says. “They can learn about everything from the biology of the seals, to the training we do.”

Workers at the centre play games with the seals to keep them mentally stimulated. They also do memory tests on them to learn more about how seals think.

“They’re not pets,” says Nichols. “They’re there for research. We want to know what they know. Do they see in black and white? Do they see in colour? Can they identify objects? So if they do they’re rewarded with a piece of fish.”

All five of the seals at the centre are harp seals. The oldest one, Babette, is 26 years old.

Each seal has a unique personality, according to Nichols. Babette is the contrary one, and Lenny has a “fetish for rubber.”

“They’re quite intelligent, kind of like a cat,” she says.

The Ocean Sciences Centre is open to the public seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 7.

— Shawn Hayward
Suggestion for a nook? nooks@thescope.ca

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