Abstract:marine mammals in

Michael Williamson (whe_william@flo.org)
Mon, 3 Dec 1994 09:21:14

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@flo.org>
Subject: Abstract:marine mammals in
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Subj:	ABSTRACT: Status of marine mammals in the Strait of Georgia...
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Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         Robin Baird <rbaird@calafia.uabcs.mx>
Subject:      ABSTRACT: Status of marine mammals in the Strait of Georgia...
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Calambokidis, J., and R.W. Baird. 1994. Status of marine mammals in
     the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound, and the Juan de Fuca
     Strait, and potential human impacts. Canadian Technical Report
     of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 1948:282-300.
     Nine species of marine mammals commonly occupy the trans-
boundary waters of British Columbia and Washington (BC/WA).
Individuals of all species move across this international border.
Of the four pinniped species common to these waters, harbour seals
are the most numerous and the only one that breeds in the trans-
boundary area. Approximately 27,000 harbour seals occur in the
trans-boundary area, and the population has been increasing at 5-
15% per year. Elephant seals are found in the trans-boundary area
in small numbers, and their occurrence in the area has increased in
recent years. The number of California sea lions in the area
increased in the 1980s and appears to have stabilized. While
declining through most of its range, the number of Steller sea
lions which use this area appears to be stable, although well below
historical levels. Of the five cetacean species common to the
waters, harbour and Dall's porpoise are the most abundant and
number in the several thousands. Harbour porpoise numbers in some
areas have declined since the 1940s, though little data are
available to assess current trends in populations of these two
species. Two populations of killer whales utilize the trans-
boundary area. The "resident" population is growing and is
currently larger than it was prior to a live-capture program in the
1960-70s. Over 20,000 gray whales migrate past the entrance to the
Strait of Juan de Fuca and some individuals spend prolonged periods
feeding in the spring and summer in BC/WA waters. A small number of
minke whales use this area for feeding, primarily during the
spring, summer, and fall. Marine mammal are vulnerable to human
activities in the BC/WA trans-boundary waters. High concentrations
of contaminants, especially chlorinated hydrocarbons and some
metals, have been identified in these animals. Highest
concentrations of contaminants have been found in harbour seals
(from southern Puget Sound), harbour porpoise and killer whales.
Determination of the impacts of these contaminants on marine
mammals in these waters has been inconclusive, though in other
areas contaminant exposure has been linked to reproductive failure
and immunosuppression. Marine mammals are killed incidental to
commercial fishing operations, particularly harbour porpoise and
Dall's porpoise. Information to assess human impacts on most marine
mammals and to adequately evaluate their current status is
extremely limited.
Robin W. Baird, Ph.D.
Marine Mammal Research Group    Temporary address (until April '95)
P.O. Box 6244                   SFS Baja, APDO. Postal 270
Victoria, B.C.                  La Paz, Baja California Sur
V8P 5L5 Canada                  Mexico
Phone 604-380-1925              Phone 52-112-24011
Fax 604-380-1206                Fax/Messages 52-112-55525
E-mail: rbaird@sol.uvic.ca      E-mail: rbaird@sol.uvic.ca