We had another successful year of remote video monitoring of the Chiswell Island Steller sea lion rookery. A hearty thank you to our seasonal staff that helped out this year!
However, “all is not well with the natural world.”
The number of pups born on Chiswell Island dropped off again this year. There were only 82 births recorded this summer after seeing a record 127 births in 2015 and 98 last year. We suspect a reduction of food availability due to warming ocean temperatures may be at least partially responsible for the observed decrease in pup production. To add insult to injury, there has been a significant increase over the previous 11 years in transient killer whale activity around the rookery since late August. Transient killer whales are major predators of sea lions and other marine mammals1.
It appears the recovery of Endangered Steller sea lions may still be at risk and we need your help to continue monitoring this sentinel species into the coming years. The current remote video system is based on outdated technology and the equipment is beginning to fail. This past summer we had fewer cameras available for viewing than ever before. To build and install a new digital video system, we need a substantial amount of additional funds and we will soon be launching an online crowd funding campaign to this end. Details will follow within the next few weeks.
Written by: Dr. John Maniscalco and Pam Parker
All research activities were conducted under NMFS Permit No. 18438-00
Ref (1): Maniscalco, J. M., Matkin, C. O., Maldini, D., Calkins, D. G., & Atkinson, S. (2007). Assessing killer whale predation on Steller sea lions from field observations in Kenai Fjords, Alaska. Marine Mammal Science, 23(2), 306-321.