Norton, the popular googly-eyed seal who spent 20 years at Virginia Aquarium, dies

Norton (Courtesy photo)
Norton (Courtesy photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH – The Virginia Aquarium’s 29-year-old Atlantic harbor seal, Norton, has died.

The aquarium reported the death Thursday in a release that remarked on its employees’ sadness. Staff and guests loved Norton, who was also called “Googly” because of his light blue left eye, it said.

“He would eat anything, from jellyfish to smelt, and he loved to tumble backward off the rocks and into the water of his exhibit. Unfortunately, his bubbly personality will no longer be on display at the Virginia Aquarium,” the release said. “He was a favorite for our marine mammal trainers, and he would always complete tasks as asked.”

Norton was born in 1987 at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn. He came to the Virginia Aquarium in August 1996 with his four brothers when the Mystic Aquarium underwent a major renovation. Of those seals, 30-year-old Peter and 25-year-old Piper are still with the Aquarium. Male harbor seals have an average life expectancy of 20 years to 25 years in the wild, the release said.

“While we are heartbroken at the loss of Norton, his age and health have been true testaments to the incredible care that our staff provides for these animals. From weekly checkups to a diet of restaurant-quality seafood, we work diligently to provide the highest quality of life for them,” said Lynn Clements, the aquarium’s executive director, in the release.

The aquarium said Norton appeared to be in good health recently, showing only slight lethargy that is generally associated with molting. A necropsy was performed Thursday. Results are pending. Tissue samples will also be tested, the aquarium said.

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