Entanglement in marine debris and fishing gear is an increasing problem for the world’s pinnipeds and a contributing factor in Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) injury and mortality. From 2005–2009, we surveyed (n = 389 days) two haul-outs on the central Oregon coast containing a combined median of 402 animals (range 33–1240, or ca. 1–19% of the Oregon coast population). We recorded 72 individuals entangled in marine debris (n = 70) or with ingested salmon hook-and-line fishing gear (n = 2). Of the identifiable neck entanglements, black rubber bands were the most common neck-entangling material (62%), followed by plastic packing bands (36%), nets (1.2%), yellow rubber bands (0.4%), and a flying disc (0.4%). The estimated prevalence of entanglement for individuals in Oregon was 0.34%. Juveniles were the most frequently entangled age class (60%), followed by adult females (28%), and subadult males (12%). Supply chain and industry-based solutions are needed to prevent entangling debris from entering the ocean, along with eliminating, modifying, or cutting entangling loops of synthetic material.

Raum-Suryan, Kimberly L.; Suryan, Robert M.
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Source (Journal Article): 
Oceans 2022, Vol. 3, 319-330
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12 pages