Protocols for Marine Mammals in Distress

SeaLionStrand 004
Stranded Sea Lion, 2014

Unfortunately, it looks like we’re on track for another rough year for sea lion pups.  SeaWorld is picking up about 10 per day in the county.  A few years ago, this was due to a shortage of small fish.  The moms wean the babies at about 6 months and then if they can’t find small fish they start to starve.

It is possible that we may encounter ailing sea lion pups in the tidepools at CNM.  If we do, you should follow certain protocols to protect both the animal and the visiting public.

The Section 3 (18)(A)(ii) of Marine Mammal Protection Act 16 U.S.C. 1362 essentially states that any human activity that causes a change in the behavior of a marine mammal is considered harassment.  Harassment is prohibited under the MMPA.

If you see a marine mammal that appears to be in distress in the tidepools or along the shore:

  • Take care to NOT make your presence known, visually or audibly, to the animal.
  • Keep guests from making their presence known to the animal.
  • Maintain sufficient distance so as not to cause a change in behavior of the animal.  If you see a change in behavior, back away from the animal.
  • Contact a park ranger and give the exact location and a description of the animal, including any relevant observations such as behavior, size, color, markings, or tags.

If you have any questions about these protocols, please contact Bonnie Phillips.

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