Visitors now have a name to call the young harbor seal that recently joined the Virginia Aquarium: Rudder.
The name edged out Pepper and Brigs — short for Brigatine, N.J., where the seal was found — in a contest that drew votes from around the world, according to Aquarium staff. Other names that lost included Pickles, Navy, Frankie, Sam and Bruce, after his home state’s music legend, Bruce Springsteen.
“We are so thankful to the public for helping us choose his name,” said Rachel Metz, Director of Live Exhibits for the Virginia Aquarium, in a release to media. “The staff and I are particularly pleased with the selection of the name Rudder because it speaks to the reason we have him and gives us an opportunity to share the story of his rescue every time we tell his name.”
Rudder was found stranded near Deal, N.J., on Valentine’s Day earlier this year. The juvenile seal had lacerations on his neck and puncture wounds on his back, possibly from a shark bite or boat strike. The seal’s injuries resulted in partial paralysis in its hind flippers, so the seal was deemed non-releasable. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine rehabilitated the seal, and the Virginia Aquarium staff transported him to their location in Virginia Beach.
He’s been adjusting well to his new surroundings, according to the Aquarium’s release.
“He loves playing with all his new toys,” it said. “He’s still a little shy, but he is getting acclimated and really loves working with our team.”
The Aquarium will host a “Welcome Home Party” for Rudder once he’s gotten used to Peter, Piper, Hector and Norton. Those are the names of the Aquarium’s other harbor seals.