As changing ocean conditions lead to declining fish stocks and movement of forage fish, sea lions on the Oregon coast are subject to the pressures of declining prey availability and increasing conflicts with commercial and recreational fisheries. An analysis of strandings of California sea lions, Zalophus californianus, and Steller sea lions, Eumetopias jubatus, from 2006 to 2014, included cause of death, changing ocean conditions, and anthropogenic activity. Causes of death included disease, injury, and human interaction, such as gunshot wounds, fisheries net entanglements and boat strikes.
Oregon and Washington strandings of California sea lions are primarily adult and subadult males that migrate north from California rookeries, while Steller sea lions are year-round residents and strandings are comprised of males and females of all ages. While the California sea lion population is currently at or near carrying capacity, the Eastern Pacific population of Steller sea lions was designated as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act until October 2013. Understanding impacts to these two pinniped species is vital to implementing effective management and conservation policies.
Oregon and southern Washington strandings of California sea lions and Steller sea lions from 2006 to 2014 were analyzed spatially using the geographic information system (GIS), and temporally to identify possible correlations with prey availability and human interaction. Strandings were found to follow seasonal patterns from year to year: Steller sea lion strandings were highest from May to July, California sea lions peaked in September, October, and November. There was a correlation between significantly high numbers of strandings and the three largest commercial fisheries in Oregon: Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and Dungeness crab.
This analysis provides a format for continuing to monitor primary ecological and anthropogenic drivers of pinniped mortality in Oregon and southern Washington.
|Commitee:||Banis, David, Ruedas, Luis|
|School:||Portland State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Oregon|
|Source:||MAI 55/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Conservation, Biology, Conservation|
|Keywords:||Marine mammals, Oregon, Pinniped, Sea lions, Stranding, Zalophus californianus|
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