Working with harp seals is like herding cats at one-of-a-kind research site

While it sounds interesting on one hand, I always have to question the necessity of studying wild animals in captivity. I'd feel better about it if these were animals that were rescued and deemed unsuitable to be released back into the wild.

It’s the only place in the world where harp seals, named for the shapes of their black markings, live in what scientists call an “enrichment environment.”

Researchers over the years have studied their behaviour, diet, physiology, even their ability to be shown one object, then find its match when shown multiple options — for a fish reward, of course.

The seals are also local celebrities. They draw about 20,000 visitors a year, especially during the public education program run each summer.