Science Spotlight

Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990, following a documented >80% reduction in population size.  Based on genetic differences, Steller sea lions within U.S. waters, have been segregated into two stocks; the Eastern and Western distinct population segment.

This geographical separation occurs at 144 W longitude or Cape Suckling, AK.  While the Eastern stock steadily increased in population size, the Western continued to decline and was subsequently up-listed to endangered status in 1997 [United States  Federal Register 62:30772-30773].  Today, the Western stock appears to be stable or slightly increasing as a whole but strong regional differences have be reported across rookeries and haul-outs.  Despite greater than twenty years of research investigating the Western stocks population trends, the drivers behind the failure to return to historical population size estimates remains unclear.

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