sea lions (fwd)

From: pita admininstrator (
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 14:55:27 EST

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 16:35:42 -0800
From: Pat Gearin <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Reply to Maxine of West Seattle Re: sea lions

This reply is in response to a Maxine of West Seattle who described some
activity by sea lions near the Duwamish waterway. My name is Pat Gearin
and I'm a wildlife biologist with the National Marine mammal Laboratory
in Seattle. One of my current research projects is conducting studies
on California sea lions in Washington. What Maxine described was what
we refer to as "rafting" behavior by California sea lions when they rest
in the water often in small groups with their flippers in the air. This
is a very common behavior observed for many years in many areas of
Washington and although Steller sea lions will occaisionally do it, it
is most often California sea lions. When rafting, sea lions will often
be sleeping at the surface or just below the surface and they will
intermittently rise up to breath. In small groups, sometimes 3-4 sea
lions will have their flippers up and the ones sleeping under water are
only visible by seeing portions of their backs or bellys. We're not
sure why sea lions raft this way but some speculate that it's for group
resting, that the flipper extension allows them to align themselves in
the water or that the flippers can be used for thermoregulation. At any
rate, it's unlikely, in my opinion that any of the sea lions observed
were dead. I hope this helps explain what was observed. Feel free to
contact me if you have further questions. E-mail-

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