OAI Provides Support for Steller Sea Lion Population Assessment
On Wednesday, October 23, 2013 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the eastern population of the Steller sea lion will be taken off the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list of threatened species. In doing so, the Steller sea lion will become the first animal in 19 years to be removed from the ESA list by NOAA.
Ocean Associates, Inc. (OAI) was contracted by NOAA to provide field support by way of biological technicians, field research leaders, and a more senior Scientist III at remote field locations in Alaska, as well as at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, WA, as part of an Alaska Steller Sea Lion population assessment.
OAI personnel have been involved in all aspects of the research, such as assisting with field camps, counting the animals from aircraft and ashore, and analyzing photographs to determine the ages, sex, and distribution. The scientists use the information to develop computer models to estimate the reproductive capabilities and trends in population size. All the research is then assembled by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to make recommendations for stewardship of the animals.
Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), are the largest members of the Otariid, or eared seal, family. Also known as the northern sea lion, the Steller sea lion has a range that in 1997 was split into two “distinct population segments” (DPSs) at 144° West longitude (Cape Suckling, Alaska). The Eastern DPS ranges from southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, and California.
After a population assessment of approximately 18,000 Steller sea lions in 1979 they were listed as threatened and ultimately placed on the ESA list in 1990. A 2010 count showed the population had increased to approximately 70,000 sea lions, primarily in the Eastern DPS area. The Western DPS continues to decline as of the last assessment and will remain on the ESA list.
OAI provides professional consulting services to government organizations, the private sector, academia, and UN agencies. OAI experts have carried out ocean and fisheries projects throughout the world. Our experts couple diverse work experiences as scientists and senior managers with exceptional backgrounds and contacts throughout the United States and worldwide.
-Press Release for Ocean Associates, Inc., October 25, 2013.