The Maritime Aquarium Mourns Death of Harbor Seal Ariel

Norwalk, CT – It is with a heavy heart that The Maritime Aquarium announces the death of Ariel, a beloved harbor seal.  

She passed away in the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 26, at 33 years old. Her health had slowly been declining since late September and she was taken off exhibit for advanced imaging as she becamelethargic and less interested in food. She was considered geriatric in age and suffered from chronic respiratory conditions, but ultimately, a cause of death remains unknown. 

The Aquarium’s Animal Husbandry team worked day in and day out to support her and keep her comfortable through her remaining days at the Aquarium.  

Ariel was born at the National Aquarium in Baltimore on June 24, 1990, and moved to Shedd Aquarium in 1991. In 2005, she moved to The Maritime Aquarium with Rasal, who can still be seen in Pinniped Cove, and Orange, who passed away in 2018. 

She was known for her sweet personality and was beloved by her trainers, staff, volunteers, and visitors. She was often hauled out on the dock in the morning soaking in the sunlight, swimming underwater by the large viewing window, or relaxing on top of the water. 

President and CEO Jason Patlis said: “Ariel has been a part of The Maritime Aquarium family since 2005, and she has delighted millions of visitors over the years. For the last few months, at 33 years of age, she had showed signs of her age, and our marine mammal team and veterinarian partners worked heroically and tirelessly to give her the best care possible. We will all miss her greatly.” 

Chief Operating Officer Dave Truedson said: “The team at the Aquarium works tirelessly to provide best in class animal care to all our resident animals. Losing any animal in our collection can be difficult, but when it is one of our adored seals it especially hard.” 

Interim Director of Animal Husbandry Rachel Stein said: “Ariel was beloved by our staff and our guests. She made so many special connections with children and adults alike over her nearly 20 years at the Aquarium. The loss has been especially hard for her trainers who worked with her every day and developed a strong bond with her. She was part of our family and will truly be missed.” 

Senior Trainer Dylan Salamone said: “Over my career I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible animals, but Ariel stands out the most. She was incredibly trusting and charismatic, and as a trainer, you work hard to develop a bond with the animals in your care. I will always cherish the bond that I had with her, Ariel had a unique impact on so many and she will be missed dearly. “ 

Our Animal Husbandry and Veterinary teams await the results of Ariel’s necropsy to determine the cause of her passing. 

Aquarium visitors can share memories and photos on Ariel’s memory board.

THE MARITIME AQUARIUM AT NORWALK inspires people of all ages to appreciate and protect the Long Island Sound ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits, marine science and environmental education. The aquarium is home to over 7,000 animals of hundreds of species including seals, sharks, rays, jellies, turtles and meerkats. Additionally, it offers sensory-enhanced 4D movies, in-person and virtual education programs for schools and families, and public cruises aboard its hybrid-electric research vessel. The Maritime Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and receives support from the State of Connecticut DECD’s Offices of Culture and Tourism. For more information, visit

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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