Sea lions at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium are helping visitors get in the festive mood by providing their own unique version of Christmas kisses under the mistletoe.
Californian sea lions, Finn and Lucy are adding a distinctly fishy flavour to the yuletide celebrations with their pinniped pecks on the cheek.
The aquarium is offering a limited number of opportunities for visitors get enjoy a Christmas kiss following their daily seal and sea lion talks and feeds.
“Both Finn and Lucy are very used to being around humans and they genuinely enjoy the daily interactions they have with their keepers,” said Blue Reef’s Anna Etchells.
“They have been practising their smooching technique on staff for the past week and we all agree it’s high time they found some new targets.
“They don’t need much encouragement, however the prospect of a tasty fish treat is definitely an incentive and, to be honest, they’d happily kiss people all day if they could.” she added.
Finn is a young male who arrived from Belgium while Lucy is a more mature female from Spain.
Both share their extensive outdoor home with a colony of harbour seals; including pup Benji – who was born there in July.
California sea lions are known for their playfulness, intelligence, and noisy barking.
They are extremely agile in water and also on land. This is because they have long front flippers that are strong enough to balance their weight on them.
Although once under threat, their populations have increased due to the protection afforded by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Of the five species of sea lions worldwide, the California sea lion is the only one whose population is expanding.