Project: Emergency Response Tagging and Satellite Tracking for Rehabilitated Pinnipeds (California sea lions)
Since January 2013, elevated levels of malnourished sea lion pups and yearlings have been stranded on California beaches. More than 2,000 young sea lions have washed ashore in 2015 alone, too emaciated and dehydrated to care for themselves. Additionally, highly elevated numbers of Guadalupe fur seals, a species listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, have also been noted. The unprecedented crisis has been declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME), and rescue and rehabilitation networks are utilizing limited resources to respond.
Atlantic Marine Conservation Society worked with Pacific Marine Mammal Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, Fort MacArthur Marine Mammal Care Center, Channel Islands Marine Wildlife Institution, and Sea World San Diego to track rehabilitated sea lion pups and fur seals of all ages after release in order to ensure rescue efforts maximize long-term survival of California sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals. While the direct and indirect causes of current elevated strandings are still under investigation, it is critical for rescue and rehabilitation programs to determine release success and long-term survival rates. This project was supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.