Alaska SeaLife Center Announces Pregnancy of Steller Sea Lion
April 16, 2020

Seward, Alaska (April 16, 2020) – The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is very excited to announce the pregnancy of seventeen-year-old Steller sea lion, Mara. ASLC’s ten-year-old male, Pilot, is the sire. 


Steller sea lions both in human care and in the wild give birth in the early summer. Veterinarians predict Mara may give birth sooner than usual for the species, sometime this spring. “Estimating a delivery date is imprecise in any species, but in Steller sea lions it is even harder since we have only tracked a few pregnancies. Nevertheless, I expect Mara to give birth earlier than all of our other births since I was able to detect the developing pup about a month before other cases,” predicts Director of Animal Health and lead veterinarian, Dr. Carrie Goertz.


ASLC mammalogists train animals to voluntarily participate in their own health care, which eases medical procedures like those involved in monitoring pregnancies. Ultrasounds and radiographs are typically trained well before an animal even becomes pregnant. “Training is beneficial to the animal and staff because it provides tools to allow us to track mom and pup to verify that mom is doing well and the pup is growing adequately. Training voluntary behaviors also ensures that the animal and trainer are comfortable,” states Assistant Marine Mammal Curator, Jamie Mullins. 


To understand more about the stresses of reproduction in Steller sea lions, ASLC researchers utilized the Center’s marine mammal training program. Blood samples were taken over the course of a year to measure cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress response, in pregnant and nonpregnant females. Findings indicated animals trained to voluntarily participate in health care had lower cortisol levels than those that required physical restraint. Learn more about the study here.


In the history of ASLC, there have been four other successful Steller sea lion births, all from another female Eden, who is now at Mystic Aquarium. “The Alaska SeaLife Center is one of only three aquariums in North America that house Steller sea lions. We are optimistic that the birth of Mara’s pup will continue to contribute to the understanding and knowledge base of this endangered species. This pregnancy and birth also contribute to the collaborative management of this species,” remarks Husbandry Curator, Lisa Hartman. 


About the ASLC

Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a 501(c)(3), non-profit research institution and public aquarium in Seward, Alaska. The Center generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit


The Alaska SeaLife Center is currently closed to the public to help lessen the spread of COVID-19.

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