By Justin Cox
Surveys in British Columbia have documented hundreds of sea lions entangled by discarded human trash and derelict fishing gear, according to the Vancouver Aquarium. Similar numbers are estimated along the West Coast of the United States.
Wildlife Veterinarian and SeaDoc Director Dr. Joe Gaydos has been working with Dr. Marty Haulena, lead veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, Kristin Wilkinson and others at NOAA Fisheries, and a team including other veterinarians, wildlife officials and biologists to bring this tool to Washington and Oregon.
On a recent trip to Bodeltah Islands off the coast of Washington, the team disentangled two affected sea lions, the first animals to be disentangled in Washington. After viewing multiple entangled animals, the team was able to identify several good candidates, sedate them, remove the packing straps that had entangled them, and then reverse the anesthetic and recover them safely.
“We’re excited to be bringing this safe, but technically challenging technique into Washington,” said Gaydos.” Disentanglement not only improves the welfare of the animals we help, but also enables us to collect data needed to identify the main items entangling sea lions so we can help manufacturers alter their production and stop the entanglement cycle.”
This work was done under the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program Permit #18786. Read more about the team’s work and check out more cool photos on the Aquarium’s Aquablog.