Banner Photo: Seal mother and pup. (Credit: Bob Turner)

New 2020 Article

2020 Rating

2020 Rationale

Better management has led to increased numbers since the 1970s, and monitoring continues. However, pressure from climate change will likely impact recovering numbers, and population estimates would benefit from more frequent monitoring.

The following is an excerpt from the full updated article. Download the full 2020 article for all content and references.

Pinnipeds: population stable since the 1990s

Authors: Chad Nordstrom, Pinniped Research Program, Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO)

Sheena Majewski, Pinniped Research Program, Pacific Biological Station, DFO

With contributions from: Aroha Miller, Manager, Ocean Watch, Ocean Wise Research Institute

Reviewers: Graeme Ellis, DFO (retired)

Jane Watson, Professor Emeritus, Vancouver Island University

Peter Ross, VP Research, Ocean Wise Research Institute

Excerpt from New 2020 article

Pinnipeds common to nearshore B.C. waters include harbour seals (Phoca vitulina), California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus). Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) and Elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are also common to Pacific Canadian waters, but they are observed much less frequently due to their offshore nature and long dive times, respectively. Recently, lone Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi) have been observed on a handful of occasions, which may be related to warm water pulses driven by climate change.

Read the full article to see what else is happening.

Background: Typical rocky reef haulout (Credit: Sheena Majewski)

What can you do?

A detailed overview of recommended actions relating to climate change is included in The path to zero carbon municipalities. In some cases, no progress was identified on previous recommended actions; these remain listed below.

action-individual Individual and Organization Actions:

    • Always keep your distance from seals/sea lions, especially during breeding season.
    • If you see a marine mammal in distress (injured, stranded, entangled), keep people and animals away and report it to the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre on 604-258-SEAL (7325), or to DFO at 1-800- 465-4336, or on marine VHF radio channel 16.
    • Alternatively, if you see someone abusing a marine mammal, you can also call DFO on their 24-hour hotline, 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or Marine VHF radio channel 16.

action-governmentGovernment Action and Policy:

    • Continue to fund the monitoring and research of pinnipeds in the Strait of Georgia, including Átl’ḵa7tsem/ Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound.
    • Use best-available scientific evidence to inform whether seal/sea lion management is practical or will produce the intended results.
    • Create more Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to protect pinnipeds from human activities and haul-out sites from climate change impacts.
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