SEALS AND SEA LIONS
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1997:
Stellar sea lions in the Bering Sea and Gulf
of Alaska, officially threatened since 1990, drew U.S.
Endangered Species Act protection on May 1, after
declining by 85% in some waters over the past 30 years,
including an 18% decline since 1994. Gulf of Alaska
Stellar sea lion pup counts fell 40% between 1991 and
1994. The Stellar sea lions of southern Alaska,
Oregon, and northern California were not included in
the uplisting, as their numbers are slightly up.
Thirty-six members of the last surviving
Mediterranean monk seal colony washed up along the
coasts of Western Sahara and Mauritania between May
19 and May 24, apparent victims of toxic red tides.
The Mediterranean monk seal population may be as low
as 220 individuals in the Cap Blanc Peninsula colony,
plus scattered others living outside a colony structure.
Fourteen California sea lions, apparently
caught in fish nets and bludgeoned, washed up May 16
at Playas de Tijuana, just south of the U.S. border. An
estimated 100,000 sea lions live off Baja California.
Seals getting sucked into the cooling
intakes of generating stations drew global attention in
May, sparked by the May 19 rescue of an Atlantic gray
seal from a reservoir within the Dungeness B nuclear
plant in Kent, England. The seal was drawn in after a
trawler knocked a protective grate off the intake pipe.
The Seabrook nuclear power station in New Hampshire
has killed 20 seals over the past two years, while eight
California power plants led by the San Onofre nuclear
reactor have killed 119 seals and sea lions over the past
five years––twice as many as in the five previous years.
Investigators ascribe the increase to the rising marine
mammal population. About 145,000 sea lions and
31,000 harbor seals now live along the California coast.
British Antarctic Survey scientist Dominic
Hodgson says the Antarctic fur seal population is 75%
higher than ever before, due to the decline of baleen
whales to just 10% of their pre-whaling norm, which
eased competition for krill, the staple food of both.