Grade 5 students from tiny St. Paul Island, Alaska will be helping staff at the Vancouver Aquarium on Friday transfer seal pups to a temporary home here.

The six Northern Fur Seal pups, which were born on the island, are participating in a long-term project to study the species, whose population is declining at a rate of sixper cent a year for reasons unknown to scientists.

Research staff from the University of B.C.’s Marine Mammal Research Unit will be trying to determine whether nutritional stress caused by changes in the animals’ food supply or environmental conditions have reduced their survival or reproductive success.

Members of the public will be able to see the seals in the underwater viewing gallery.

The pups, which were given Aleut names by the children, are called Meechi (ball), Tikva (pumpkin), Tuku (chief), Kyoo (berry), Aya (friend) and Ani (lake).

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