Sea Lion Scientists at Sea - Searching for Answers to a UME
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute recently attached satellite transmitters to California sea lion pups prior to their return back into the ocean after months of rehabilitation and TLC at SeaWorld San Diego.
The Waitt Foundation has just generously provided $30,000 toward our campaign goal of $75,000. HSWRI and the SeaWorld Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program share a unique partnership and are coming together with other scientists and federal resource managers to investigate the causes behind the recent unusual mortality event. But we need the help of the community to fund additional transmitters and the expense to do the follow-up research on the pups' post-return movements.
Please join us with your gift today to become a Sea Lion Solution partner!
Ways to Join Us in Being a Sea Lion Solution Partner • Honor Mom this Mother's Day by making a donation in her honor to give a local sea lion pup a second chance at life • Start a company-wide fundraising campaign to cover the cost of a satellite transmitter and post-movement tracking. Stay tuned for news about the sea lions' movements after their return to the ocean. • Kids: Do a school fundraiser! Sell cookies, lemonade, and collect money from friends and neighbors to help us follow a sea lion pup after it returns to the sea • Approach your favorite local restaurant/bar and ask them to donate a portion of a specific day's take toward the Sea Lion Solution campaign. Make flyers and invite your schoolmates to come out for the fundraiser • Cheerleaders, girl/boy scout troups: make this campaign one of your patches. Learn about sea life solutions and do a fundraiser to sponsor a sea lion pup's return to the sea
(Please be sure to indicate "Sea Lion Solution Partner" in the PayPal notes section.)
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that celebrates 50 years of providing sea life solutions in 2013. Two of its senior research scientists, Drs. Pam Yochem and Brent Stewart, have over 35 years experience working with sea lions and seals in our local coastal waters and offshore islands. They saw the California sea lion crisis developing at the California Channel Islands while conducting research during the elephant seal breeding season (November 2012‐March 2013). As has been the case in past years, their field observations served as an 'early warning system' for the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
California sea lion pups born in summer 2012 began stranding in large numbers on the beaches of mainland Southern California in early 2013. Due to the fact that the number of live, stranded sea lion pups picked up by the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Southern California since January 2013 was approximately three times higher than the historical average, an ‘Unusual Mortality Event' (UME) for California sea lions was declared in Southern California by NOAA Fisheries.
A key concern in caring for stranded marine mammals is their fate once they are returned to sea. Some California sea lion pups cared for by the SeaWorld Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Program during the 2013 UME may re-strand if prey remains scarce in local waters. Others may adapt to changes in environmental conditions and do well.
For more than 40 years, the Sea World Rescue & Animal Rehabilitation Program has been giving marine mammals a second chance at life. The Program has rescued over 6,500 animals since its inception. HSWRI and SeaWorld share a unique partnership: the Park provides HSWRI scientists with unparalleled access to its zoological collection and, in turn, our scientists contribute scientific knowledge, best practices, and proven expertise to impact the health and welfare of the marine-life park's animal collection. At great expense, SeaWorld has provided stranded sea lion pups with state of the art rehabilitation in the form of medical care, shelter, healthy diet, and Tender Loving Care.
As Sea Lion Solution collaborators, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute scientists and Sea World Rescue & Animal Rehabilitation Program staff have closely monitored the sea lion pups' progress over the past couple of months and are now working together to identify those rehabilitated pups strong enough to return to the sea. This past weekend, Drs. Yochem and Stewart attached five satellite-linked radio transmitters to sea lion pups that have been under the care of SeaWorld's rescue team. The instruments were attached using standard techniques used by marine mammal biologists around the world.
Results will be compared with similar tracking studies on free-ranging California sea lions conducted by HSWRI and by other scientists, and with our previous research on post-rehabilitation outcomes in California marine mammals. The results from this study also will be incorporated into the multi-disciplinary investigation being coordinated by NOAA Fisheries on the underlying causes of the UME. Finally, our findings may be used to inform decisions about where, when, and how to return California sea lion pups rehabilitated during the UME.