Meet the Residents of Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Meet some of our Science Aquarium’s most fascinating and charismatic animals. Learn about each of them through fun facts, videos, and printable coloring pages.
While visitors love seeing the wide array of animals we have, some residents are real characters and become true fan favorites. Let’s meet a few residents that won the hearts of both visitors and our staff.
Kitt the Harbor Seal
Hometown: Kittery, Maine
Birth year (estimated): 2021
Forever home date: March 23, 2022
Favorite foods: Squid and capelin — a small forage fish related to smelts
Favorite toys: Kong tire, wubba-tugga, ice cubes, fishsicles, and anything that floats
Personality: Playful, inquisitive, total ball of energy
In 2021, this very young wild seal pup was struck by a boat propeller and seriously wounded. She was rescued and taken into rehabilitation by Marine Mammals of Maine. They are a nonprofit organization authorized by the federal government to respond to stranded mammals and sea turtles as part of the marine mammal stranding network. Because her injuries took her eyesight, Kitt could not be returned to the wild and was in need of a forever home. Our seal habitat has been empty since 2017. During that time we’ve been looking for rehabilitated seals that could not be released to the wild. Since Kitt’s injuries prevented her from release, she was a natural fit for our exhibit. In March 2022, we were thrilled to have her join us and make our aquarium her forever home.
Bubba the Harbor Seal
Hometown: Orlando, Florida, and Providence, Rhode Island
Birth date: April 30, 2000
Forever home date: May 13, 2022
Favorite foods: Herring, squid
Favorite toys: Fishsicles, sprinkler
Personality: Gentle giant, tolerant, laid back, goes with the flow
On April 30, 2000, Bubba was born at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. In 2001 Bubba was transferred from SeaWorld to the Roger Williams Park Zoo. He spent more than 20 years at the zoo where he brought joy to staff and visitors alike. He spent most of his life in the company of other harbor seals until recently when the zoo transitioned away from holding harbor seals. Because Bubba has never lived in the wild, he can’t be released. Our seal habitat has been empty since 2017. During that time we’ve been looking for seals who can’t be released to the wild. Since he needed a new home and a companion, he was a natural fit for our exhibit. In May 2022, we welcomed Bubba and are over the moon that our aquarium can be his forever home.
Gilbert the Snowy Grouper
Meet Gilbert, our aquarium’s young snowy grouper. He’s a favorite of both visitors and staff, probably because of his big personality. Snowy groupers are solitary predators, which is why Gilbert has his very own tank. He gets daily attention from his caretakers. They change his tank decorations and layout, give him sand baths, catch his interest through the tank glass, and provide him nutritionally rich foods.
Gilbert eats fish and gel food. In this video you will see him eat capelin, a member of the smelt family. Gel is a special food made fresh each week by aquarium biologists. It is a blend of raw fish, carrots, spinach, and a fish meal that has all the essential vitamins and trace minerals that Gilbert needs to stay healthy.
Did You Know
- All groupers allow a cleaner fish or shrimp to eat parasites and dead skin from their bodies—even inside of their mouths—and the cleaner fish and shrimp get some "noms". In this relationship, called “mutualistic”, everyone wins!
- Snowy groupers are found in waters as deep as 1700 feet! That’s deeper than the Empire State Building is tall. Typically they’re found at around 300 to 650 feet.
- Snowy groupers are “lie and wait” or “ambush” predators. They stay motionless and wait for something yummy to swim by before they ambush them.
- Snowy groupers can live around 30 years.
Make your world more fishtastic with our printable coloring pages. Not only is it a great activity for kids of all ages, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about marine animals. Your masterpiece awaits! Download and print our Gilbert coloring page today! (PDF; 1 page)
Sometimes our science aquarium isn’t a forever home for animals—sometimes we’re just a stop along their life’s journey. Let’s meet a a beloved resident that has moved on to bluer waters.
Joy the Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Let’s meet Joy, a young loggerhead turtle. We helped her recover from damage to her shell and then released her back to the ocean.
Joy was stubborn, feisty, and did things in her own time in her own way. Her powerful jaws allowed her to eat hard-shelled creatures like sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, clams, and mussels. At the aquarium, we kept her shell clean. In the wild, she would carry many small animals and plants on it throughout her long migrations.
Loggerheads are an endangered species. That is one reason we took such good care of Joy. Her injuries happened after she was cold-stunned. “Cold-stunning” is when a cold-blooded creature like Joy is suddenly surrounded by temperatures too cold for her body to work correctly. Joy's shell was damaged by the cold temperatures. Some of it died and fell off!
The inner coast of Cape Cod is a well-known world hot spot for sea turtle cold-stunning. More than 100 turtles can come ashore in a single day if there is an influx of unusually cold water, usually caused by a storm. In the 2018 mass cold-stunning event, one of them was Joy.
Joy spent nearly 2 years with us, regrowing her damaged shell and regaining her strength. In late August 2020, Joy was tagged and released back into the wild off Cape Cod.
Did You Know
- Loggerheads are found in all but the coldest oceans.
- Loggerheads almost never leave the water once they hatch.
- They are the most common sea turtle in U.S. coastal waters.
- Mother sea turtles return to the same beach where they were hatched to dig a hole in the sand, where they lay their eggs and cover them up. The temperature over the next 60 days determines the sex of the turtles that hatch.
- Floating plastics — such as plastic bags, balloons, packing peanuts—in the ocean are a threat to sea turtles. They often mistake plastic items for food and eat them, which can be deadly.
Make your world more turtletastic with our printable coloring page. Not only is it a great activity for kids of all ages, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about marine animals. Your masterpiece awaits! Download and print our Joy coloring page today! (PDF; 1 page)
About Our Science Aquarium
The Woods Hole Science Aquarium was established in 1875, making it the country's oldest public aquarium. The aquarium is designed for self-guided tours of the main exhibits and a behind-the-scenes look at aquarium operations.