Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq) is mourning the loss of Boots, its beloved 35-year-old harbor seal.
After medical tests revealed cancer in Boots’ esophagus, her caretakers determined her quality of life was at stake. After thorough evaluation and consideration, the decision was made to move forward with humane euthanasia.
Surrounded by those who loved and cared for her, Boots peacefully fell asleep for the last time.
“Saying goodbye was an incredibly hard call, but the right one,” said Brittany Blades, OCAq’s Curator of Marine Mammals and Boots’ caretaker for the past 12 years. “She impacted so many lives, and we’ll carry her in our hearts forever.”
Boots was found stranded as a pup on a beach in Mexico in 1988. Orphaned and dehydrated, she was taken to Sea World San Diego for care, and was later deemed non-releasable. She came to OCAq in 1992, just in time for its grand opening.
Often described as the sassiest seal, Boots charmed staff, volunteers, and visitors alike. She was known for interacting with guests by hanging upside down in the water, her gaze curious and fixed on passersby. Behind-the-scenes, her favorite activities included sunbathing and working with her caretakers. Always enthusiastic for training sessions, Boots would wave her flipper, vocalize, and blow bubbles at the water’s surface.
Boots was considered a super senior, having surpassed the normal life expectancy of her wild counterparts by more than a decade. In nature, harbor seals can live into their mid-twenties. They tend to live longer under human care due to the constant supply of high quality food, excellent veterinary care, and absence of predators.
Throughout her 35 years, Boots acted as ambassador of her species, connecting people with marine wildlife.
Press release and photos provided by the Oregon Coast Aquarium, July 2023.