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Researching Relationships Between Fisheries And Marine Mammals

Credit: Andrew Trites
Credit: Andrew Trites


The Marine Mammal
Research Consortium

Formed in 1993, the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium’s mission is to conduct research on the relationships between fisheries and marine mammals in the North Pacific Ocean and Eastern Bering Sea, which includes researching Steller sea lions, killer whales and northern fur seals. The Consortium is made up of the University of Alaska, University of British Columbia, University of Washington and Oregon State University. With annual funding of $300,000 provided by the Pacific Marine Science Foundation, experts in physiology, ecology, marine mammalogy, fisheries and oceanography have developed a long term research project to be carried out over five years.
Learn more about the Consortium

Steller Sea Lion Credit: Andrew Trites
Steller Research

The Role Of The
Vancouver Aquarium

Administration of the Consortium, and research conducted at the Vancouver Aquarium for this five year project, is headed by research coordinator Dr. Andrew Trites and staff at the Marine Mammal Research Unit of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. Since 1993, the Vancouver Aquarium has been a key player in Consortium research by caring for and studying six Steller sea lions specifically for this project.

Some Of Our Latest Findings

Over the past few decades, major changes have occurred in the abundance of seals, whales and sea birds breeding in the North Pacific. In Alaska, harbour seal numbers are greatly reduced, northern fur seals are depleted and Steller sea lions have been declared endangered in certain areas. In British Columbia, Steller sea lion numbers appear stable, but harbour seal populations have increased rapidly. Further south, striking increases are being observed in elephant seals and California sea lions. Such large-scale changes may be a natural phenomenon or they may be connected with similar changes occurring concurrently in a number of commercial fisheries. 

Steller Sea Lions Credit: Andrew Trites

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