Subject: Sea Lions Found Dead Off Antar (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Mon, 2 Feb 1998 14:55:22 -0500 (EST)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 98 13:04:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Sea Lions Found Dead Off Antar

Sea Lions Found Dead Off Antarctica

   WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- At least 700 rare New Zealand sea
lion pups have been found dead on an island off Antarctica,
conservation experts said Thursday.
   The pups, about 30 percent of those born at the main breeding
colony on Dundas Island, and five sea lion cows were found dead by
veterinarian Nick Gales. Dundas is part of the Auckland Islands,
200 miles south of New Zealand.
   The New Zealand sea lion, one of the world's most threatened sea
lions, has an estimated population of 11,000 to 15,000 in the
southern waters of New Zealand.
   "We are extremely concerned to find such a large number of dead
sea lion pups and will be doing our best to find answers as soon as
possible," Department of Conservation marine mammal expert Mike
Donoghue said Thursday.
   Donoghue said it was too early to say what caused the deaths.
Possible causes included a virus, a bacteria or a toxic algae
bloom. All the dead animals appeared "outwardly healthy and in
good condition," he said.
   Results of tests would take about three weeks.
   Another cause of death among sea lions is netting by fish and
squid trawlers. The New Zealand squid fishery was closed early last
year after more than 70 of the mammals died in nets.
   In southern California, warmer water from El Nino has driven
away fish and squid the mammals that sea lions eat, forcing them to
leave their island habitats for the mainland to find food.
   On islands from San Francisco to San Diego, beaches are littered
with carcasses of California sea lions and northern fur seals. But
experts say the populations of those species have soared since
1972.