NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s a question that has been on many Western New Yorker’s minds: What type of winter will we have this year? Stryker, a seal at the Aquarium of Niagara, shared his prediction with the community Friday morning.

Stryker, a 7-year-old rescued harbor seal who has predicted Western New York’s winter conditions for the past three years, made his pick at an event with third graders from Harry F. Abate Elementary School. He picked between two choices: cold or frigid.

“Obviously here in Western New York those are the only two options that we have,” said Halle Torre, the aquarium’s associate curator of marine mammals and birds.

For those hoping for a milder winter after last year’s punishing storms, there’s hope. This year, Stryker predicted a cold winter rather than a frigid one.

With support from NOCO and the City of Niagara Falls, the annual winter prediction event aims to being the community together to learn more about sea life, as the aquarium advocates for sustainability and to teach Western New Yorkers how they can take action to help aquatic life.

We think about the things that are impacting animals living in the wild the changing climate comes to the top of that list,” said Gary Siddall, president and CEO of the aquarium. “And one of the things we’re responsible for in terms of our mission and educating the public is talking about those changes as well as the impacts that humans are having on the environment.

From sting rays, to penguins to, of course, sea lions, the third graders who visited the aquarium Friday learned lessons about sea life beyond the textbook pages.

“We’re able to bring all of these rescued animals in and really educate everyone about some of the threats that they have out in the ocean including overfishing, pollution, and we’re able to show off how amazing all of these different species are,” Torre said.

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.