marine mammal research

The North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium undertakes research on marine mammals

The Consortium undertakes research on marine mammals and their interactions with fisheries, other species and oceanographic conditions in the North Pacific Ocean and Eastern Bering sea. It uses a variety of techniques, including field studies, computer modeling, data reconstruction, and captive animal research. The research program deals with a variety of North Pacific species, including Steller sea lions, northern fur sealsĀ and killer whales.

Over the past few decades, major changes have occurred in the abundance of seals, whales and sea birds breeding in the North Pacific. In Alaska, harbor seal numbers are greatly reduced, northern fur seals are depleted, while Steller sea lions have been declared endangered in parts of their range. Similar declines have been reported in some seabird breeding colonies.

In British Columbia, Steller sea lion numbers appear stable, but harbor seal populations have increased rapidly.

Further south, striking increases are being observed in the range and abundance of elephant seals and California sea lions.

Such large-scale changes may be a natural phenomenon or may be connected with similar changes occurring concomitantly in a number of commercial fisheries. All told, they stand to impact commercial fisheries and the lives of peoples in coastal communities throughout the North Pacific.

New Technologies
  • Trained Steller sea lions test hypotheses and develop new approaches
Nutritional Stress?
Why did they decline?
We undertake studies to test the leading hypotheses thought to explain the decline of Steller sea lions.
Sea lion biology and ecology
Information about the ecology, biology, physiology, behaviour and population dynamics of sea lions is needed to resolve why sea lions have declined.