Galapagos Sea Lion Emergency Appeal
November 9, 2011 § 2 Comments
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