Dead Sea Lions Showing Up on Seattle Beaches

B. McPherson

                                                     

Someone in the Puget Sound, Seattle area is shooting sea lions. To date eight dead sea lions have been found. Both the local Department of Fish and Wildlife and NOAA are investigating the crimes. According to Seattle’s King 5 News one of the dead was a Stellar sea lion, supposed to be protected by the endangered Species Act and another, a California sea lion, protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

There have been no arrests in the latest spate of shootings, but the Sea Shepherd Society has stepped up to the plate to offer a $10 000 reward for the apprehension and conviction of the killers.

Sea lions and seals have come under attack by fishermen because of their conflicting agendas. The fishermen want to harvest as many fish as they can and the sea mammals want to eat their fill of the fish. Some of the mammals have learned to fish the locks in Seattle where salmon get trapped in a relatively small area and are easy to capture. Some fishermen blame the seals and sea lions for a diminished supply of fish, failing to recognize that before European exploitation of the resource, there were abundant fish eaters as well as abundant fish.

The California sea lions have a healthy population on the west coast of North America and can be a nuisance for some owners of docks and log booms. The bachelors migrate north in late winter and congregate on easy haul outs to socialize and establish rank. In some instances their large numbers can sink a dock, much to the chagrin of the owner. On the other hand, people have made a good living by charging people for sea lion tours.

The Stellar sea lions have been declining in recent years. While there is speculation as to why their population has plummeted there is no definitive answer.

To report information on the Sea Lion Shootings, please contact:

 NOAA Enforcement Hotline: (800) 853-1964

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