Sea lion deaths off West Seattle shores under investigation

(Photo by Will, added 8:26 pm, taken at a Beach Drive necropsy scene today)
We’ve received a few notes this week about dead sea lions on local beaches. That’s not always newsworthy – usually we advise people to check the resources on the West Seattle-based Seal Sitters‘ website, regarding who to call with news of seals, dead OR alive – but it seems there’ve been more than usual this week. Robert sent us a Facebook note early this morning after happening onto the scene south of Alki Point where one had been found; he said that Parks employees at the scene told him there was another one further down the western West Seattle shore. Though Seal Sitters’ primary focus is watching over live seals, they are often “in the know” about other happenings with marine mammals, so we checked with them, and Robin Lindsey confirmed, “We had two dead male sea lions on the beach here. Also, one decomposed harbor seal that Parks buried this morning. And lastly (hopefully) a beautiful dead adult harbor seal at another small park.” She said state biologists were planning to do necropsies at the scene this afternoon, then tow the bodies out. We spoke with her a short time ago and she had not yet gotten word on official cause of the sea lions’ deaths; we have also left messages for National Marine Fisheries Service‘s media liaison. Lindsey said, “We usually have a lot of deaths this time of year, but four dead pinnipeds in West Seattle in one day is (unusual).” ADDED 8:28 PM: Added a photo that Will – who had e-mailed us about a dead sea lion earlier in the week – took today at a necropsy scene on the beach. He says those who were participating found a bullet – that’s something we plan to ask authorities about, since another person who e-mailed us said they’d heard talk of sea-lion shootings elsewhere in the Sound.

5 Replies to "Sea lion deaths off West Seattle shores under investigation"

  • sealionlover February 11, 2010 (5:36 pm)

    Thanks for posting. I think its always newsworthy. I love the sea lions and seals around here and hate to hear that this is happening. I wonder if the water needs to be tested? So many cruise ships/boats and even subs etc. I am always surprised that these animals can even survive in these waters with the pollution that exists. I think that is why I love them so much. I will be looking forward to hearing what the necropsies show. The death of a wild animal can often be a warning to the rest of us that our environment is out of balance. I hope there are no more.

  • d February 11, 2010 (6:51 pm)

    Maybe some folks are not familiar with the Puget Sound Partnership.

    Every citizen needs to know about them – they are operating out of a mandate by Gov. Gregoire to clean up the Sound within a decade. In this decade, good citizenship will require our awareness and cooperation in these efforts.
    The link which follows will take you to the PSP state of the Sound Report. This is the first report the group has submitted.

    Among the findings was that deleterious amounts of flame retardant chemicals are being found in our harbor seals. There was not any reference to sea lions being affected, as far as I know. But if I am wrong, I welcome a correction.

    Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the Puget Sound Partnership and the first report.

  • KM February 11, 2010 (8:12 pm)

    We saw a large dead sea lion in the rock jetty between Constellation Park and the “Stilts” Condos on Super Bowl Sunday. Not sure if that one was included in the count so I thought I’d share it.

  • Westside J. February 12, 2010 (12:22 am)

    IMO, if it were a pollution related problem-that resulted in several found dead in the same general area on the same day- then it would be followed by similar scenarios soon thereafter.. As in the pollutants that killed these ones would continue to kill others in some quantity. I am curious to hear more about this bullet/shooting thing.. Seems to ring a bell actually. I don’t remember hearing about it specifically, but it feels familiar none the less..

  • dawsonct February 12, 2010 (9:38 am)

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it was some (group of) fisher-folk. They’ve been grumbling about declining stock for years, and guess who they blame?
    Here’s a clue trigger-happy fish people, you will save more salmon tearing down some dams, and if you REALLY HAVE TO SHOOT SOMETHING you might consider a timber or mining executive. Their actions do far more to negatively impact fisheries around the world than a few sea creatures who co-evolved with their prey and never wiped out the salmon on their own.

    In fact, when pinnipeds were FAR more numerous and there were FAR FEWER humans, the salmon and other fisheries were much healthier than they are now.

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