Galapagos Sea Lion Emergency Appeal

November 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Galapagos Sea Lion Pup
An unprecedented level of Galapagos Sea Lion pup mortality is occurring NOW on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos.  Please support us to stop this tragedy. Donate now.

Since the beginning of the 2011 breeding season, scientists from the University of San Francisco de Quito have observed mass mortality of newborn pups, miscarriages and stillbirths on and near San Cristobal Island in the eastern region of the Galapagos Islands.

Mortality rates for pups have reached almost 60% compared with an average of 5 – 15% in a normal year.
The Galapagos National Park (GNP), with help from the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), the University of San Francisco / Galapagos Science Center and Agrocalidad are urgently trying to determine the main reason for the deaths.

The need for a quick diagnosis is clear – the Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) is already classed as endangered and the spread of this disease to other islands in the Archipelago carries a serious threat to the species.  Although the cause of this mass mortality remains unknown, the clinical signs point to a variety of diseases, some of which may have the potential for transmission to and from other mammals, or possibly even humans.

The scientists at CDF are acting with great urgency together with their partners and have requested the support of the Galapagos Conservation Trust to aid:

  • the identification of the disease agent
  • the formation of an action plan to contain the disease
  • the monitoring of future pup mortality, sample collection and analysis
  • the sampling of sea lion colonies on other islands for comparison and to identify the spread of disease
  • the protection of public health
  • the planning and implementation of health surveillance to identify and mitigate disease threats in the future more rapidly
Please act NOW and help us reach our initial goal of £6,000* to ensure that we can understand this disease and its likely impacts on the Galapagos Sea Lion colonies.  Keep checking back for updates from the CDF scientists.* Any money raised above this figure will be used for the vital ongoing monitoring work that studies like this urgently require.

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§ 2 Responses to Galapagos Sea Lion Emergency Appeal

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  • las artes says:

    The Galápagos sea lion is one of the most conspicuous marine organisms of the Galápagos archipelago. Not only does it play a central role as a key predator in the Galápagos marine ecosystem. With its playful behaviour and friendly appearance it engages the sympathy of thousands of national and international visitors year by year and constitutes a keystone reference for the preservation of marine resources in the Galápagos Islands. As other marine organisms in the Galápagos it deserves special attention from a conservation viewpoint, being subject to extreme changes in food availability triggered by climatic fluctuations of the El Niño Southern Oscillation events. During such an event, mortality drastically increases and can lead to the loss of entire cohorts [ 2 ]. Population recovery may be increasingly hampered by human activities, in particular by the increasing depletion of marine resources, often in disrespect of existing regulations [[ 3 ], see also [ 4 ]]. While in the early 1960s its population was estimated at about 20.000 to 50.000 individuals and described as abundant [ 5 , 6 ], recent census results suggest that numbers have declined since the late 70s to approximately 14.000 individuals at present [ 7 ]. The ‘IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™’, which classifies species at high risk of global extinction, has categorized it as ‘vulnerable’ in 1996 [ 8 ]. In contrast, the Californian sister population has experienced steady growth over the last three decades [ 9 ] reaching numbers of 167.000–188.00 with a yearly pup production of about 33.000 [ 10 ]. It is classified at ‘lower risk with least concern’. The JSL is considered extinct; the last credible reports date back to the late 1950s.

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