Accessibility links

Sea Lions Appear in Record Numbers in Northwest U.S. - 2003-06-06


Some Pacific Ocean sea lions are a long way from home these days 215 kilometers inland at the spillways of the Bonneville dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. pacific northwest. The sea lions have been following the spring Chinook salmon runs and they’ve turned up at the dam in record numbers. Anna Song, from station KATU in Portland, Oregon, has more on the story.

NATURAL SOUND – SEA LION MAKING NOISES

They are the ultimate vacationers, nearly 100 sea lions in all who headed north this year, to feed on salmon, right by the Bonneville Dam.

ROBERT STANSELL, BIOLOGIST, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
“There were so many this year instead of having the favorite fish-way entrances where one big adult whale would hang up and say this is my territory, they have kind of have to space themselves out and say ok, that’s yours and that’s yours; this is my pecking order and I will hunt here.”

And it’s quite a journey the sea lions make. They start down in southern California then swim up to Astoria (Washington) in the summer. In years past, a few sea lions have ventured up the Columbia (River) but this is the first time biologists have recorded this many swimming all the way to the dam.

ROBERT STANSELL, BIOLOGIST, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
“They seem to come fill up on fish for a week and then they go back down to Astoria, haul out, soak up some sun, they either come back up here or go somewhere else.”

SHELDON SIEFORT, ANGLER
“I counted 22 one day, right in there.”

Sheldon Seifort wishes the sea lions would go somewhere else, and not come back.

SHELDON SIEFORT, ANGLER
“They steal the fish from right off our lines,”

NATURAL SOUND - SHELDON SIEFORT SPEAKING TO UNIDENTIFIED MAN
“They do don’t they?

SHELDON SIEFORT, ANGLER
“The young ones especially have no respect. They should shoot all the ones that come up the river.

Biologist Robert Stansell and his observers say the sea lions have eaten about 2700 salmon and steelhead trout this year, that may sound like a lot but its only about 1.5% of the total run during their visit. And it’s just a fraction of what the fishermen take in. And so for now, Sheldon Siefort will just have to make due…

SHELDON SIEFORT, ANGLER
“This year, it totally ruined my season.”

Against some tough competition.

XS
SM
MD
LG