SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

NOAA seeks information from public on marine mammal deaths near Skagway


June 06, 2011

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - It has been a deadly 2011 for marine mammals in the Skagway area. Since January, the carcasses of two Steller sea lions and three harbor seals have been discovered.

Of the five deceased mammals, four showed signs of head trauma, and a bullet was recovered from one harbor seal skull during a necropsy.

NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement is asking the public for help in determining exactly what is causing these deaths.

"One Steller sea lion appears to have died from illness," said NOAA Fisheries' Aleria Jensen, marine mammal stranding coordinator for the Alaska Region. "The other Steller sea lion and the three harbor seals showed signs of trauma to the head indicative of marine mammal-human interaction."

"We are currently investigating these incidents," said NOAA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Ron Antaya. "However, any information that can be provided by the public would be welcome and could help to resolve these matters more quickly."

Antaya said that any unexplained death of a marine mammal is concerning, multiple deaths over a relatively short period of time in the same general locale is alarming.

It's possible that these marine mammals died as the result of lawful subsistence hunting activity and that the animals were lost before they could be recovered. These deaths could also be the result of reckless, illegal activity, he said. Either way, information from local citizens is critical to a thorough investigation.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is asking anyone with information about the marine mammal deaths call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.



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