Subject: Info: Giant sea lion's attraction fa (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 07:58:12 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Mon, 3 Jun 96 11:30:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Giant sea lion's attraction fa

Giant sea lion's attraction fatal to his partners

    By Matt Spetalnick
     LOS ANGELES (Reuter) - Marine biologists and park rangers at
a nature preserve off the California coast are on the lookout
for an amorous, overgrown sea lion who has given new meaning to
the term "fatal attraction."
     Nicknamed "the Marauder of San Miguel Island," the 1,800-
pound male is believed to have killed up to 50 female sea lions
annually in the past five years by crushing them to death with
his inept mating attempts, authorities said Sunday.
     Scientists call him a freak of nature -- a rare hybrid giant
resulting from the union of a large Steller sea lion and a
smaller California species.
     As the spring mating season gets under way, rangers at the
Channel Islands National Park -- about 55 miles off the southern
California coastline -- say they may have no recourse but to
shoot him to keep him from killing again.
     Biologists had struggled for years to solve the mystery of
the dead sea lions they were finding each spring in a remote
cove off San Miguel Island. They first suspected fishermen were
clubbing the protected sea mammals and even considered whether
pollution was the culprit.
     Then, last spring, the Marauder was caught in the act.
     "Biologists actually saw the huge animal out there trying
to mate with another sea lion," said Bill Faulkner, a ranger at
the park. "This guy is several times larger than a California
sea lion, and when he mounts one, he crushes or suffocates it."
     Steller sea lions can grow up to 1,800 pounds The California
sea lions the Marauder seeks out as unlucky partners -- a fatal
attraction possibly resulting from a sharp decline in the number
of suitable Steller females in the area -- usually average about
200 to 250 pounds .
     But rough sex may not be the Marauder's only problem. He
also may be sterile, biologist Robert DeLong told the Los
Angeles Times.
     Now, as the spring mating season begins, authorities are
keeping close watch for the Marauder's return, Faulkner said.
They are hoping he met his end while wintering in the waters of
the Pacific Northwest, where sea lions are sometimes killed by
sharks and whales or run over by power boats.