Hope For The Wild - Seals & Sea Lions

Hope For The Wild - Seals & Sea Lions

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Welcome to Blank Park Zoo's 'Hope for the Wild'. My name is Chris Eckles. I'm the chief engagement officer here at Blank Park Zoo, and I'm excited to have you join us on our journey to discover, connect, and take action for seal and sea lion conservation. Did you know both seals and sea lions are marine mammals called pinnipeds, but they are very different in several ways. Sea lions are brown, bark loudly, walk on land using large flippers, and they have visible ear flaps. True seals have small flippers, wriggle on the land, and lack visible ear flaps.

During this program, you will have the opportunity to discover the conservation efforts by Blank Park Zoo, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California, Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, California, the Vancouver Aquarium, and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to protect and care for seals and sea lions. You will also have the opportunity to connect with Blank Park Zoo's resident seals Ross, Meru, and Mira and Sea Lions Zoey Addy, and Meatball, and catch up with Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium resident seal Monty, who was born here at Blank Park Zoo. Blank Park Zoo is proud to live our mission to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research and recreation.

As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, we work collectively to save animals in the wild from extinction. We hope you enjoy the program and feel inspired to discover, connect, and take action for the wild. Here at Blank Park Zoo, we have three resident California sea lions. Zoey, Addy and Meatball can be seen swimming together around our pool or basking on the deck together. When telling our three girls apart.

Meatball is our smallest and youngest sea lion. Addy and Zoey are two largest sea lions, yet Addy has a letter number combination branded on her left side. Though it was not given to her here at the zoo, it reminds us of an amazing connection to her wild cousins. Addy was part of an extensive wildlife study conducted by the State of California. Her letter and number combination that was given to her to allow researchers to track these animals from a distance. Although she was rescued at a young age, she is still a great example of the important work that conservationists do to protect these animals.

So now that you can tell our girls apart, how are they different than Pacific harbor seals For starters, they are much larger and can come in a variety of solid colors, ranging from dark brown to blonde. Sea lions also have the ability to rotate their hind flippers and allow them to move on land on all fours. Their large front flippers are very powerful and allow them to swim up to 25 miles per hour in the water. Sea lions are more social than harbor seals and can often be seen in herds on land or rafts in the water.

Another really interesting thing about sea lions is their teeth. They have very sharp teeth that they use to catch prey and swallow it whole. They also have bacteria on their teeth that appears black in color. This bacteria actually helps protect the sea lions, teeth and aides in digestion. We are privileged to work with our rescued sea lions and can't wait for you to get to know them, too. When visiting Hub Harbor here at Blink Park Zoo, you'll find three harbor seals, Ross, Meru and Mira, and there are some fun ways to distinguish them and our California Sea Lions.

First, let's talk about their coats. Our harbor seals have spots and circles on their coats. They can come in a variety of colors such as black, gray, brown and tan. Their bodies also look pretty different than a sea lion's. When watching them move on land, they inchworm along on land also known as galumphing due to their short stout flippers and inability to walk on their hind flippers. They also don't have ear flaps like our California sea lions.

Instead, they just have ear holes and they have short stout heads. Pacific harbor seals are also solitary by nature. Sometimes they're hanging out by themselves, whereas our sea lions will be hanging out in a group swimming around the pool.

In the wild, Pacific harbor seals can be found along the coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean. They love to eat a variety of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Ross and Meru were each rescued from the wild and deemed unreleasable, which is how they ended up here at Hub Harbor. Ross came to us with a variety of eye problems, and Meru has a paralyzed hind flipper.

Looking for that paralyzed hind flipper is an easy way to distinguish Ross and Meru, and an easier way to distinguish them from Mira is their size. Mira is still a young seal. She'll be one year old in August, and right now she only weighs 82 pounds and is currently the smallest animal in our pool. Ross and Meru are also not first time parents.

They do have another pup who is currently living at the Omaha Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. His name is Monty and he'll be three years old this summer. Hello, my name is Amanda and I'm one of the sea lion keepers here at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. I am here to talk to you a little bit about Monty and give you guys an update on him. So Monty came to us from Blank Park Zoo in April 2021.

Monty is now in Owen Sea Lion Shores with Milo, our other harbor seal, as well as six sea lions who range from ages about eighteen years old all the way down to three. I remember the drive bringing him back. He was just very observant, wanted to see what's going on, and just kind of waiting and chillin and seeing what's going to happen.

And then after a short quarantine period, just to triple check, everything was all good for him, he was introduced to Milo and they hit it right off. Soon as he was able to come out, he wanted to go right outside and went right in to nip and meet Milo. So Monty swam in and Milo was in our pool and they were nosing and getting to know each other. They did a little splashing and now they're best buds.

One does not go without the other. We also call them our emotional support seals sometimes because they are just they're glued at the flipper. It's really cute. They're glued at the flipper and they just love to hang out with each other. When he came to us, you guys might remember he was a little naked. You know, he was very gray with a little mohawk of fur and some mutton chops, a fur.

He was a pretty cool dude, and we instantly fell in love with him. Last summer, about July, he started to get his hair back during that molt season. So now if you guys come visit him, he looks really different, very white, with lots of speckles, different, darker gray spots. So he always makes me think of cookies and cream. Ice cream. He likes watching the public. He's very observant and he likes watching his surroundings and taking everything in.

When we first started training and working with Monty, he was a little he was a little cautious. He really wanted to take in his surroundings wanted to make sure he knew what was going on. And he didn't really know us. But he was a very brave boy and working with us for the last year, we've gained and gained that relationship, built that relationship with him that he will. He loves to train with us inside.

Outside we've started having them in our demonstration. So they train right behind me on this demonstration a couple of times. A day. He loves herring and he loves Caplin. But let me tell you, he does not like sardines.

He is very offended if you throw him a sardine and there is so much judgment in his cute face, if he does that, he holds his water well. He also really likes enrichment. That foraging enrichment base.

So I made something called Snuffle Mats. There's a heavy bass and then it just has kelp strips hanging up and it looks like a little kelp forest and I hide fish in it and I'll sink it. And then they nose around and he plays a game with us that we've called Where's Monty? So he likes to hide in different spots underwater and how and see if we can see him or if he thinks he's being really sneaky sometimes he's really sneaky and sometimes he is not sneaky, but he thinks he's sneaky.

He likes to help out. When we're cleaning the windows, he points to spots that I missed with his nose and he'll just kind of hover over it until I get that spot too with a rag. A male sea lion is called a bull, a female is called a cow and a baby a pup. A group of sea lions is called a colony on land and a raft when in the water. Sea lions are strong swimmers. They can reach speeds upwards of 20 miles per hour in the water.

When swimming, they use their fore flippers to generate power and their hind flippers to steer. Sea lions also hunt underwater they can dive to depths of 300 meters. Enrichment is a dynamic process for enhancing our animals environments within the context of our animal's behavioral biology and their natural history. When we enrich our animals here at Blank Park Zoo, environmental changes are made with the goal of increasing the animal's behavioral choices and drawing out their species appropriate behaviors, thus enhancing animal welfare. Enrichment is an important part of animal care and an important part of our day every day here at the zoo. There are many ways in which we provide our animals care and opportunities to demonstrate their species appropriate behaviors and encourage them to get physical exercise, mental stimulation, and to provide choices to each of our animals.

Seals and sea lions can be very social, curious, intelligent animals. There are many natural behaviors that we aim to support in our daily work here at the zoo. Behaviors such as hunting, hauling out, socializing with their specifics, diving and investigating, just to name a few. Seals and sea lions are top predators. So we offer multiple feeding opportunities throughout the day. Some of my favorite examples include giving squid, caplin and herring in small feeders to encourage their hunting behaviors.

The animals will expend energy by pushing the feeders through the water popping them out of the water, push them across land and work really hard to get all the fish out of these feeders. They will also compete with each other socially, which in this instance is a very species appropriate behavior for sea lions who in the wild can congregate in large groups called a raft. Another favorite opportunity of mine that we provide is offering fish in frozen ice blocks. The animals are very interested and invested in manipulating the ice blocks for long periods of time, which draws out their natural curiosity and their natural hunting behaviors. To avoid predators and to be able to hunt in the wild, both seals and sea lions have to be in great physical condition.

So here at the zoo, we utilize an operant conditioning training sessions to practice behaviors that require energy and strength, which helps maintain their healthy body condition. We also can use something simple like a water hose to encourage fast swimming, diving, porpoising, quick turns and a lot of high energy swimming with the seals and sea lions. Enrichment is about looking at things through the lens that the animal would. We ask ourselves, how can we help the sea lions be a sea lion? What does a seal want to do with their day? And what kind of environment and choices can we provide to allow the animals to live to its fullest capability within the range of its natural behaviors? When the animals are thriving and demonstrating their amazing and unique capabilities, the public has this beautiful opportunity to learn so much about the species and they have the chance to fall in love with them. Hopefully, in turn, they will feel passionate about taking action to help conserve wildlife and wild habitats.

So our mission here at the aquarium falls on some really important things, and one of them I've kind of touched on, and that is being able to create a connection with the people who come and visit us. I find that people are more likely to want to conserve their environment and protect the oceans if they come and see an animal in front of them that they can create a connection to. And so many people don't get the opportunity to see these animals out in the ocean. And being able to kind of bring them here and be able to create that connection is super important. And I think it fosters a love of the environment around us and wanting to protect it.

Another thing that is really important to us here at the aquarium is the species in our care being able to contribute to things like research and studies and understandings of these species. We refer to some of our animals here as super heroes for their species because we've been able to learn so much by working with them and being able to do research with them that we are able to learn so much about their wild counterparts. Being an aquarium, one of our top priorities is going to be animal welfare. It is our mission to give each and every single animal the highest level of animal welfare, whether that's in the form of health care, enrichment, environment, or everyday interactions.

That's one of the main goals here we have at the aquarium. Some of the important things that we do here is giving a second chance to animals that have come through our care, often because of human involvement. So animals like Cinco and Donnelly and Jessica, they're able to come and live at the Vancouver Aquarium and in being here, they act as an ambassador for their species and not even just their species, but about what kind of human involvement and the impacts that we can have on the animals in the environment. So I love when people can come into the aquarium and hear a Cinco's story and connect with it, and maybe it inspires them to change some of the things or the practices that they do, or it inspires them to get involved in their community and in the ecosystem that's around them, as well as just fall in love with the animals and that's one of the main goals here, is to create a connection between people and these animals and with stories like Cinco's I think it really does have a huge impact.

So some of the accomplishments here at the Vancouver Aquarium that we are really proud of is the training and care we've been able to give to the animals that have come to our facility through our rescue center. Often these animals have impairments that have happened because of human interactions. So examples of that are Cinco, Jessica and Dudley. All three of them have vision problems. And so our team has been able to train on various behaviors. And in doing that, we were able to provide a really great level of care for these animals that would have not been able to survive out in the ocean.

Being able to do things as simple as body checks all the way up to voluntary blood, ultrasounds and x rays, all of these important health care behaviors that were able to be trained despite some of the challenges that arose. Seals have large eyes that can see in the dark, deep water. They also have long necks that can shoot out quickly to catch fish while swimming. Seals can live in freshwater or saltwater.

They spend virtually their entire lives in a five mile area. They seldom venture far off the coast and often return to the same resting place. Those sites can be rugged, they can be rocky, or they can be sandy.

Here at the Bank Park Zoo, we do a lot of training with all the seals and sea lions and this is really important because it helps assist us with the daily care of these animals. For instance, several times a day we will shift these animals in and out of their indoor holding and this helps us because we're able to maintain and work on the exhibit, whether it's cleaning pools, cleaning up debris, hosing the deck, anything like that in a safe and manageable way with less animals out on deck with us. This also allows us to get one on one care and training with the animals inside holding.

If you ever come out here, you might catch us training the seals and sea lions and if you see that, you might get to see some really cool, fun, energetic behaviors. So you'll see them do things like ball jumps or moving across the island and these are all really important behaviors because it helps them burn energy and it helps them exercise, but it also allows them to do some really cool natural behaviors that these animals would do in the wild. In between some of these behaviors, you might see us do some behaviors that look a little less exciting but are super important for the health of these animals.

So what we call these behaviors are medical husbandry behaviors. What they are are their behaviors that we have trained these animals to do, and it helps them participate in their own veterinary care. So what this looks like is we will do behaviors, for instance, like taction and this is basically us being able to touch the animals. Most of the animals in this pool are trained to lay still on their bellies while we touch or palpate their back.

They're trained to offer us their flippers or maybe their bellies that we can touch their stomachs. So we are able to touch all over their body and make sure they don't have any wounds or cysts or bumps that we should be worried about. And we can do this every single day so we can see their bodies change. They are also all trained to do open mouth present and that's just so we can look at their teeth every day, make sure there's no missing teeth, make sure their teeth are not fractured or worn down in any way. And a really cool behavior that one of our seals does is he actually allows us to brush his teeth.

Some other things that these guys can do is several of them are trained to do eye drops. So a couple of the animals actually came into our care because they were failed rehab animals that had eye issues. So when they came to us, we trained them to do eye drops so that we were able to prevent future eye issues and maintain the current eye health that they have. And then we have a couple of more in-depth medical behaviors. And these are ones that we will do special sessions for we do radiographs on these animals once a year. So these animals are trained to come in to holding lay down in a very still position while our vet staff uses their X-ray machine to take several pictures of their body.

And we're just trying to make sure that these animals aren't ingesting anything that they're not supposed to and that everything inside looks like it should. We were recently working with one of our sea lions on an ultrasound behavior. So this is really important for the future, if any bumps would come up we want to be able to get our vet staff in and be able to have them get a better picture of what's going on in these animals bodies So desensing them to this equipment is really important. So our sea lion was actually trained to lay down in a position with their flipper out and they were able to accurately ultrasound her flipper and that's really awesome. And we are currently working on an injection behavior with the same sea lion, Zoey.

So she's being trained to move her hips over to our trainer so she's able to poke her with a blunt end of a target stick right now. And eventually that will morph into hopefully being able to administer vaccinations or drugs, anything that we could possibly do in the future. That's what our training is.

We're constantly trying to find problems that could occur and train for them now so that if an animal is ever not feeling well or if we need to do anything in an emergency, that the animals are willing to participate because they've already done these things on a daily basis. Marine Mammal Center response office. Morgan speaking, thanks very much for calling in.

Could you tell me which beach you are at, specifically. The Marine Mammal Center is a first responder called on to rescue hundreds of stranded or entangled marine mammals every year, more than any other organization in the world. Our hospital in Sausalito is the largest of its kind anywhere. A nonprofit powered by donors, an army of dedicated and trained volunteers and expert staff.

The ocean is in real trouble, whether it be overfishing or rising ocean temperatures. These are threats that were caused by humans. At the Marine Mammal Center our mission is global ocean conservation and we're set to achieve that with a plan to not just treat the patients that come into our care, but to understand and be a part of the solution to the problems that bring them here in the first place. Marine mammal health, ocean health and human health are inextricably linked, which is why we share our research and medical advances with colleagues in veterinary and human medicine.

We take all the samples that are collected from the animals, and we test for different kinds of diseases and infections. So basically we give all this information to the veterinarians so they can diagnose the animal and treat the animal. This is a true teaching hospital, hosting hundreds of international students and professionals from around the world every year. On the average we'll get maybe seven or eight hundred animals, but we've gotten as many as eighteen hundred animals in a year. So because our caseload is so high, we have the opportunity to teach a lot of people.

Working side by side with our veterinary team, they learn new treatments, diagnostics, clinical techniques and best practices in rescue and rehabilitation. We also train teams globally in places like Mexico and Russia, where groups are now poised to disentangle hundreds, if not thousands of sea lions. Our decades of experience guides our work with species at risk of extinction.

Like the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, the threatened Southern Sea Otter, and the threatened Guadalupe Fur Seal. And we engage more than 100,000 adults and kids every year connecting students with science at an early age with programs like Ocean Ambassadors, Virtual Classroom Visits, Camps and youth volunteer opportunities. Human activity linked to climate change, overfishing, and ocean trash is threatening the health of our oceans by inspiring and supporting a network of scientists and ocean stewards we can protect our oceans for generations to come. That's why we encourage you to join the Marine Mammal Center.

So that we can take action to protect these animals. Unlike humans and most other mammals that don't think about each breath they take, seals and sea lions have a breathing adaptation known as voluntary or conscious breathing. A seal and sea lions nostrils are naturally closed and are only open with the use of a special muscle within their nose. When necessary to take a breath, the animal must consciously open their nostrils and inhale This adaptation is helpful since they spend a large amount of their lives in the water and need to hold their breath for extended periods of time. As you may have already heard, two of our California Sea Lions.

Addy, Zoey, received eye surgeries after arriving at Blank Park Zoo. Prior to their eye surgeries, both of the sea lions were trained to place their heads into a large traffic cone and take a deep breath when asked. The traffic cone to then be modified to essentially become an anesthesia mask. This allowed Addy and Zoey to receive the necessary amounts of anesthesia required for their eye surgeries.

If the sea lions were not trained to do this, they could have held their breath for upwards of 20 minutes and not receive the correct amount of anesthesia. This is one of the many examples of how training the animals for medical behaviors is incredibly beneficial. Hi, my name is Jules, and I'm at the Marine Mammal Care Center here in San Pedro, California.

Here it is our mission to inspire ocean conservation through animal rehabilitation, education and research. Here we get about 350 patients a year, and our goal is always to rehabilitate them and release them, get them nice and healthy so they can go back in the ocean and get a second chance of life. Unfortunately, what can sometimes on a rare occasion happen is that these animals might come in with a condition that makes them not releasable for the wild. So what we have to do is we have to contact approved zoos and aquariums where those animals can actually live out the rest of their lives as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, and continue to contribute to ocean conservation and education. So I actually started my career in marine biology by, I first went to the University of Hawaii where I got my degree in marine animal behavior.

There I was like a dive master. I did a lot of field research researching sharks and tagging sharks and doing all kinds of fish research. And eventually it led me to becoming a marine science instructor and even a marine animal rescuer where I actually helped rescue some of the animals that we have here today, nd now I get to teach you guys about all the cool things we have. Let's take a look.

All right. So right over here, we have the California Sea Lion, OK? And right now they're all just kind of chilling out, relaxing in the pools. But we have some of these animals and for a really long time, these animals were hunted for their blubber, for their pelts and like whales and other cetaceans, they were hunted for their oil.

But these guys were seen as a resource like a lot of different ocean organisms. They were seen as a resource that we can just take and extract from. But now things are starting to change when we have facilities like this. If you notice over here, we have our fur seals. Now, you might notice their luxurious fur over there.

Sometimes they're always grooming it and maintaining it. But these guys were hunted for their fur. That can also take us to like sea otters and animals like that. You know, they kept people nice and cozy, but now perception has changed. So for a while, people would try to club seals, they're hunting animals for their blubber, for their fur, like I said. But right now, these animals are dealing with slightly different things than they were in the past.

Especially as fishing technology gets better and better. We have more advanced nets and we're leaving some of those nets in the ocean. So a lot of the animals that have come in and some of them I've personally rescued, we get animals that have hooks in their mouths. We get illegal gillnets that get wrapped around these animals, and sometimes all of this leftover marine debris gets left over in the ocean so it's really important that we try to be mindful of our choices.

So buying more sustainable products, being more aware of the fish that we're eating, all those things can help contribute to conservation of these animals. And what we do here as a marine mammal care center is conservation so at the end of all of this, of bringing these animals here, eventually they get fed, they sometimes put on double their weight in which they came and then sometimes even triple. And then eventually they get released into the wild back where they're supposed to be. Back thriving and making the ocean and everything we love beautiful again.

Thanks. And I'll see you guys later. Seals dive for 3 minutes at a time typically, but they can stay underwater for as long as 30 minutes and dive as deep as 1600 feet. Unlike humans, harbor seals breathe out before diving. They use oxygen already in their blood and muscles while under the water and their heartbeat slows from about 100 beats per minute to 10.

In one breath a seal can exchange 90% of the air in its lungs and humans can only change 20% of our air per breath. California sea lions are usually dark brown, although some females can appear tan. Pups are born with a dark brown, brown, black fur.

The California sea lion is faster than any other sea lion or seal in the world. They can dive up to depths of 900 feet, slowing their heart rate and stay underwater for about 10 minutes. 50 miles of California coastline. That's what falls under the Pacific Marine Mammal Center's care.

I can still remember as a child, you know, with my mom and I sitting watching Jacques Cousteau. And that's kind of what introduced me to really learn that there was such a diverse species in the ocean, and I always felt as a child that was very magical. My first time at the center was back in 1989.

I was an animal care volunteer on the Sunday afternoon shift. You always start off learning the basics, but being able to actually get some hands on care, that kind of got me hooked being able to do that for the first time. The animals spend usually two to three months with us.

Animals come in with fish hooks, you know, fishing line around their necks, a lot of different other kind of injuries that are human related. I just wish that people knew that each individual action of theirs matter. We are all connected in a part of this Earth's ecosystem, and it's about being human and caring for this planet and the world we live in. We're not going to exist without children in our future.

And if we don't teach them how important the oceans and the entire environment this whole planet is, we're not going to have a planet. Lisa, thank you for joining us. Good job.

He's going to love you in the morning. I've watched kids who have come through summer camps and become volunteers and then go on to attend vet school to become a veterinarian or go to a university, become marine biologist. I think we're educating the next generation of our oceans caretakers building upon our legacy and mission. Breaking news, operation efforts off of Southern California. Crews working to contain a major oil spill, one of the largest there in recent history. Reports of dead birds, fish and other wildlife.

Officials say they have stopped the flow, but warnings tonight of a potential ecological disaster... When a natural disaster or a disaster like the oil spill happens, the community, they're calling us immediately. How can we help? What can we do? And it's just it's astounding the response that we get The community definitely has been with us in times of need and wanting to help out through natural disasters or anything that we need. They've always been there for us. It's just it's actually very humbling, you know, how much they care.

Our organization was built upon compassion. It all started with a little girl on the beach who cared enough about a seal that she found that she thought was ill and approached a lifeguard. And that's how this whole place started. Out of compassion and caring and empathy. That one shift on Sunday afternoons has led me to becoming an animal care director 30 years later.

I feel like this is my second home. The best part of being together and working together, like long, tireless hours being able to be on that beach together and open that kennel door and celebrate the release of an animal back to their home. It's almost like an honor to be able to help these wild animals and be a part of their second chance at life. I do feel hopeful that the next generation of kids. I think we're going to be OK.

I mean, we just keep educating the children, educate the parents, and it's just it's a domino effect. The California Sea Lion and Harbor Seals conservation status are both listed as least concern. This means that wildlife experts believe that both populations are sustainable at this time in the wild. The California sea lion has an estimated population size of about 180,000 individuals where the harbor seal population is estimated to be around 315,000 individuals. Like all marine mammals in the United States, seals and sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The MMPA was enacted in the 1970s.

It plays a critical role in the survival of marine mammals. The primary objective of the MMPA is to maintain the health and stability of marine ecosystems and sustainable population of marine mammals. The MMPA protects seals and sea lions from being hunted killed, harassed and fed by humans. There are also formalized stranding response programs to improve responses to wild animals, strandings and unusual mortality events. Despite the legal protections granted to seals and sea lions, there are many threats to these animals in the wild, including but not limited to entanglement with marine debris, contaminants from agriculture, oil and gas runoff, human conflicts, vessel collisions, habitat degradation, reduced fish populations, and predation by sharks.

One of the largest threats to seals and sea lions in the wild is entanglement with ocean debris. Curious animals like seals and sea lions frequently become entangled in discarded debris such as packing straps, fishing nets, fishing hooks, ropes and wires that humans do not properly dispose of. Once entangled, they may drag and swim with attached gear for long distances. This results in fatigue, compromised feeding ability and severe injury, which may lead to reduce reproductive success and even cause death. Sea lions and seals are easy to view in the wild, but this does put them at a higher risk of human related injuries and death. Feeding or trying to feed these animals in the wild is both harmful and illegal because it changes their natural behaviors and makes them less wary of people and vessels.

They do learn to associate humans with an easy meal and change their natural hunting practices. For example, sea lions have been known to take bait catch directly off fishing gear. Sometimes this makes them fall victim to retaliation, such as shooting by frustrated boaters and fishermen. California sea lions continue to be shot by fishermen over competition for fish, particularly salmon. Seals are at a particular risk from collision with watercraft. Vessel traffic can displace seals from their ice floes, putting pups at a risk from increased time spent in cold water and separation from their mothers.

Harbor seals are also really susceptible to habitat loss and degradation. Physical barriers put in place by humans, which includes shoreline and offshore structures for development for oil and gas, can limit access to important migration, breeding, feeding molting and popping areas. Marine mammals like seals and sea lions are also negatively affected by chemicals from agriculture and oil and gas production. Once in the environment, all these substances move up the food chain and accumulate in top predators like the harbor seals and sea lions. Contaminants threaten their immune and reproductive systems, and these chemicals can be passed on to their pups during their pregnancy and in their milk. There are steps that we can all take right here in Des Moines to help save seals and sea lions in the wild.

By contributing to specialized marine mammal rehabilitation centers such as the centers our pinnipeds came from is a way people can help wild seals and sea lions. The overall goal of marine rehab centers is to send these seals and sea lions back into the wild once rehabbed. We can all be mindful of the trash we use at home and take care of our waterways, practice responsible fishing. We can also be mindful and reduce the plastic we use at home. This can help limit the plastic that ends up in our ocean habitats. When we travel and view wildlife, we can maintain a respectful distance from wild marine mammals, marine mammals and people do rely on seafood as a source of protein, but the ways people catch fish are threatening populations and damaging habitats.

By supporting sustainable fisheries, we can ensure people for generations to come have plenty of fish. Something else we can do at home is look for an MSC Blue Fish label while we shop for our fish. When you see this label, you can trust that your wild caught seafood comes from a certified fishery and that you're supporting the fisheries commitment to being more ocean friendly.

Thank you for joining us for Hope For The Wild. Understanding the world around us and finding ways to work together is a first step to save animals and habitats in the wild. We hope you feel inspired to take action for seals and sea lions. Thank you to our partners in conservation, it takes all of us working together to make a difference. Remember you have an impact on the natural world around you. Join us for our next Hope for the Wild program featuring red pandas.

We will take you on a journey to learn more about the red pandas in our care and how efforts are being made to save them in the wild. Thank you.

2022-07-11 00:58

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