Female Stellar sea lion found dead on the beach, partially scavenged by eagles. There was no sign of any bullet holes. In addition, there wasn't any other evidence of what happened to the sea lion.
Observation by Julieanne Renee Berikoff:
Earlier this afternoon I was notified by my environmental supervisor to check out a dead sea lion on front beach here in Unalaska, Alaska. As we got to the beach, it seemed like the sea lion must have been there early this morning because the eagles were feeding off it and a few spots had chunks taken out of its body. My co-worker and myself had flipped the sea lion over to check its head to see if it had a bullet hole in case it was a failed sea lion hunt. After examining its body, there was no sign of any bullet holes. In addition, there wasn't any other evidence of what happened to the sea lion. If anyone has an idea of what they think might have happened for why the sea lion washed up to shore, I would love to hear your feedback!
Barbara Mahoney, NOAA Acting Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator, writes:
Thanks for sharing this SSL report from Unalaska, as we did not have a record of this stranding event. It would be great if Melissa can collect some measurements and samples from this female. I will complete a Level A and share it with Melissa, who might get on site.
Gay Sheffield, Alaska SeaGrant Bering Strait Marine Advisory Agent, writes:
Looks like those eagles had been doing some scavenging of that female Steller sea lion. What I notice is how thin this animal is. Have cced Melissa Good as she is the marine mammal stranding responder for Unalaska and the Aleutians and may be able to get samples, etc. to better understand the health/condition of this sea lion and what might have contributed to its death. Would be good to examine the esophagus and GI tract for any sign of any ingested fishing gear/plastics.
Melissa Good, Alaska SeaGrant Marine Advisory Program Agent, writes:
I'll work up the Level A. I can collect samples, though the animal is in an advanced state of decay so they will be limited. Internal organs are no longer present, which is leading to the thin appearance.
Comments from LEO Editors:
If you see a sick or dead sea mammal, please report it immediately to the appropriate regional contact below:
NOAA’s Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network 24-hour Hotline: 877-925-7773
North Slope Borough: North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management: 907-852-0350
Bering Strait Region: Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program: 855-443-2397 / 907-434-1149
Bering Strait Region: Kawerak, Inc. Subsistence Program: 907-443-4265
Bering Strait Region: Eskimo Walrus Commission: 877-277-4392
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program: 855-443-2397 / 907-434-1149
You can also contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16. Do not approach or touch injured or dead marine mammals.
All marine mammals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Only local and state officials and people authorized by NOAA Fisheries may legally handle live and dead marine mammals.