The Alaska SeaLife Center Launches Chiswell Steller Sea Lion Fundraiser
June 13, 2018

Seward, Alaska (May 29, 2018) –The Alaska SeaLife Center’s (ASLC’s) longest standing research study involves video monitoring of Steller sea lions in Resurrection Bay, which began shortly after the Center opened. Between the 1970s and 2000, Steller sea lions experienced a striking 80 percent collapse in their population throughout much of Alaska. This resulted in their subsequent listing of Endangered in 1997. To understand this species decline and identify potential threats to the population, the Alaska SeaLife Center began a long-term, detailed monitoring study at the Chiswell Island rookery and surrounding areas, in 1999.

ASLC researchers use remote video cameras for studying the Steller sea lions in the Gulf of Alaska. However, the cameras, antennas, and related equipment are now long outdated and nearing complete failure. The remote-control video system is essential because researchers may observe these animals from monitors at ASLC without disturbing the sea lions. These animals have long-term histories that extend more than a decade providing researchers with valuable data regarding reproductive success and longevity. It is vital to continue these studies while threats remain to the population.

Scientific findings about Steller sea lion behavior and population dynamics have been reported in over 25 peer-reviewed publications, which inform the scientific community and management agencies about this species. ASLC also encourages the public to learn about sea lions by providing 24-7 access to the streaming video feed on Channel 6 in Seward. Tune in this month to observe what the researchers at ASLC are documenting during the 2018 pupping and breeding season. To date, 4 pups have been born and females are continuing to arrive on the island. 

The funds received for this project will be used to purchase updated video equipment, wireless antennas and essential hardware. Dr. John Maniscalco, the Chiswell lead scientist states, “With the new equipment, we will continue tracking many individual animals, telling their stories of survival and life challenges to the world.” The team currently hopes to reach their funding goal of $30,000 by October 2018 to enable testing and installation of the equipment by April 2019.The fundraiser is currently set up with GoFundMe at: https://www.gofundme.com/sea-lion  GoFundMe will provide tax receipts to all donors. 

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