Friday, November 6, 2009

a personal memory - the old seal pool

i've been continually trying to organize my digital photos and in that attempt i keep coming across this pic. it is not from my childhood, but probably the last photo i took of a seal in the old pool and one of the cutest photos i've ever taken or seen. too cute to pass up sharing, so i thought i'd write a bit about what a highlight the seal pool was when i'd visit as a child. ... i remember before you even got to the area you could hear all the seals barking! as you approached you would see the line coming from the hut that sold fish you could buy to feed them. it was always a big attraction for visitors and for me. my parents would always get the fish. watching them swim fast around the pool and then jump up on the rock right in front of you so you could throw the fish to them, was one of my favorite things to do at the zoo. ... the seal pool is still there but not in use. it was last used as a rehabilitation holding area in connection with the marin mammal center. the photo was taken in 2002, so this cute harbor seal was probably a part of that program and was probably eventually released back into the wild. that partnership was a great use for the pool. its sad when things you remember so fondly are no longer, but in this case, there are better places for healthy seals to live, this pool is just too small. i'm also grateful that seals and dolphins are not housed at the steinhart aquarium anymore. great memories but not a size appropriate place for these animals. i note healthy, becuz we do have orkney, a gray seal with special needs and i believe the zoo is the best place for him. ... i think my experience feeding the seals at the zoo, was a foundation for another favorite activity that is no longer. up until pier 39 corralled the seal lions and began making a profit for free off that confinement, i used to go to marina safeway and buy a bunch of fish and go down to the area behind fishermans grotto and feed the seals. it was fantastic! i would dangle a fish over the edge and a seal would jump out of the water about a foot from me! so close that i would just drop it in their mouth! fun times. ... i mentioned the marine mammal center. great organization. if you are in the sf area, check them out. i haven't been there since they re-opened after a major renovation, but it used to be a place i visited regularly. one of the most beautiful things i've ever witnessed was one of their seal releases. it took place in the early morning near point reyes. they released three seals that were rehabilitated and ready to go back in the wild. it was incredible to see.


  1. This seal photo is totally one of the cutest photos I have ever seen. I remember feeding them at the zoo when I was a kid too. Gosh, in those days we threw peanuts to the elephants!!!
    I believe Orkney is in a perfect place for "him" with his eyesight issues. He seems to be more active as his enclosure is being renovated....perhaps he knows....

  2. thankx, it is a great capture of a happy seal! ... orkney does seem more active. i see him above water and playing alot in recent months. i hope when we bring the video camera he is zooming around! its so cute i want to capture it.