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steller sea lion

salmonfishing.org

Counting Atka mackerel became really important, according to National Marine Fisheries Service Biologist Suzanne McDermott, when Steller sea lions were declared endangered in 1997.

“We learned that Atka mackerel are their main food item,” McDermott said. “That’s when we really started looking at them in relation to Steller sea lions.”

McDermott knows the mammals face competition for their food — from commercial fishermen. In 2016, Alaska fishermen caught and kept 55,000 metric tons of Atka mackerel, and discarded another 532 tons as bycatch.

Paul Wade, NOAA Fisheries

 

Before Bogoslof volcano started erupting, it was a haven for endangered Steller sea lions, fur seals, and sea birds. But scientists did not know when and if animals would return to the eastern Aleutian Island.

Vladimir Burkanov/NOAA

 

New research could help wildlife managers better protect declining Steller sea lion populations. The study looks at why sea lions zero in on specific hunting hotspots.

For humans, knowing where to find food is easy. But biologist Mike Sigler says for Steller sea lions, it’s a different story.

Melissa Good/Sea Grant

The carcass of a Steller sea lion washed up this weekend in Unalaska's Morris Cove.

The dead marine mammal was an adult male, almost eight feet long, according to Melissa Good of the Alaska Sea Grant program.

Good said it's unclear why the animal died.

She found it on the beach Saturday in a moderate state of decay. 

Courtesy NOAA Fisheries, NMFS EPA/MMPA Permit #: 18528 & IUCN # A/NW2013-2

 

In an effort to figure out what’s behind the mysterious decline of Steller sea lions, scientists are trying out crowdsourcing for the first time. The project is called Steller Watch. The idea is to convince the public to comb through pictures looking for sea lions.

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