Answers sought in sea lion decline

December 8, 2006

Researchers from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the state said they want a fuller picture about why Alaska's sea lion population is falling.

The number of Steller sea lions in one area plummeted during the last three decades. Researchers theorize several conditions -- overfishing, changing climate and whale attacks -- could be the culprits. Now they're eyeing state-sanctioned sea lion hunts and shootings, outlawed since the 1990s, to see whether they played a role as well, the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News said Friday.

The Steller sea lions population in an area extending to Attu Island was declared endangered in 1997, after peaking at 195,000 in the 1970s. In 2004, the population in the western stock was estimated at about 45,000.

Effects of the killing of pups for pelts or fishermen killing sea lions to protect fish or gear haven't been significantly studied, the newspaper said. Researchers said they are conducting interviews to get a better idea of how many sea lions were shot.

Toby Sullivan, a Kodiak, Alaska, resident interviewed about his participation in a sea lion kill, said the research will be flawed because it's anecdotal.

"All they'll get is the emotional echo of something that happened 30 years ago," he told the Daily News.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: SeaWorld San Diego gets a furry surprise: a baby sea lion

Related Stories

'Last African dinosaur' discovered in Moroccan mine

May 3, 2017

One of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before their extinction 66 million years ago has been discovered in a phosphate mine in northern Morocco. A study of the fossil, led by the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University ...

Alaska sea lion study gets help from crowdsource volunteers

March 17, 2017

A federal wildlife agency studying the Steller sea lion decline in Alaska's Aleutian Islands is looking for help from citizen scientists. Volunteers don't need raincoats or rubber boots to pitch in, just eyeballs and a computer ...

Recommended for you

Sub-zero waters a barrier to oil spill recovery

May 24, 2017

Sub-zero temperatures in the deep waters of the North Atlantic would significantly hamper the ability of oil-eating bacteria to help the ocean recover from a major oil spill, according to new research.

The birth and death of a tectonic plate

May 24, 2017

Several hundred miles off the Pacific Northwest coast, a small tectonic plate called the Juan de Fuca is slowly sliding under the North American continent. This subduction has created a collision zone with the potential to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.