'Cain' Newest Addition to Aquarium

Anthony Lim

The four-year-old sea lion Cain was moved to the introduction area of the Seals and Sea Lions Habitat at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific on Feb. 8, 2018.

The staff was excited as they opened Cain’s cage to his new habitat. Cain was very timid and hesitant to come out of the cage, but one of the staff members used fish to lure him out. His initial response was that of unfamiliarity as he came out of his cage and investigated his surroundings and new faces around him.

His behavior became more nervous as he scurried away back into the cage. The staff laughed as he went back. All of the staff were ecstatic to have him for future interaction amongst them, their visitors, sea lions Harpo and Parker, and harbor seals Shelby and Ellie.

Cain is a California Sea Lion, who was born in captivity and came from a Southeast Georgia aquarium. He is a 250 lbs., playful sea lion, that preferably eats squid and is the smallest sea lion in their exhibit.

The Curator of Mammals and Birds, Dudley Wigdahl, noted that Cain’s adjustment to his family and his environment is going to be a long process, so they are temporarily separating him through the gate cage in order to gradually introduce him to his new family.

“Currently we’re letting him get used to his smaller surroundings, then, getting him to see the animals that are currently in the exhibit through the use of the underwater door,” said Wigdahl. “When we brought him in early December, he had to go into quarantine because we do that with all our animals. We keep them separate in order to observe them and do a physical checkup on them to make sure they’re in good health. They’ll go through that for about 30 days or so. Then we can introduce the animal, if we choose too.”

Wigdahl explained that the first process is training him, so he can help the aquarium bridge a connection to their visitors by educating and entertaining them about environmental issues such as: an impacted population, overfishing effects their diet, and population. Therefore, a trainer is going to establish a life-long learning relationships with Cain in order to show Cain who is going to give him orders and take care of him.

Wigdahl explained the second process is getting him comfortable with his new surroundings. “Once they feel comfortable and he’s familiar with his new family and environment, we release him and out he goes,” Wigdahl said.

The Assistant Curator Michelle Sousa noted that there no signs of aggression between these animals and they began to mirror each other. She explained that mirroring is basically when animals mimic each other movements and behavior especially since Cain and Harpo are going up and down, blowing bubbles, and swimming away. Then, it’s up to him and the other sea lions to socialize, get used to each other and find out what the pecking order is.

A pecking order is a social group or community establishes a hierarchy of dominance amongst each other. Sousa noted that Parker is the top dog because he’s the oldest and the biggest, while Harpo is more mellow and the second oldest out of their sea lions.

 “It’s just another way we can show people just how smart and creative these animals are and why we need them in our environment. Cain is just a young little guy and he’s got a lot of energy, so once we bring him around; he’s going to be racing around tunnels quite often and really interact with the people,” Sousa said.

The staff believe that Cain will greatly impact the Long Beach community as sea lion are very sociable animals and people can learn about them from the ambassador at the Aquarium of the Pacific.



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