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A Banner Year for Sea Lions on the Channel Islands

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Date: August 11, 2011
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

On September 14, 2011, Dr. Sharon Melin, a distinguished wildlife biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), will discuss the life history of California sea lions as they transition from playful pups to resourceful predators.

Over 100,000 California sea lions, the largest breeding colony in the world, are located on San Miguel Island within Channel Islands National Park. This unique island offers the undisturbed habitat needed for breeding and rearing of pups, as well as access to plentiful food sources. This year over 27,000 sea lion pups were born on the island.

In her current research Melin is focusing on the factors that influence the local pinniped population, such as El Nino events, climate change, disease, contaminants, and competition for resources. According to Melin, this type of long-term study provides the necessary scientific basis to address the challenges faced in the conservation and management of these species into the 21st century.

Melin is a research biologist with the NMFS California Current Ecosystem Program in Seattle, Washington. For the past 23 years she has conducted research on the population dynamics and feeding behavior of California sea lions and northern fur seals on San Miguel Island. She received a BS in zoology and a MS in wildlife science at the University of Washington and a PhD in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is meant to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island is one of the world’s largest known sea caves. The cave measures 1215 feet in length (the size of more than four football fields), has a 160 foot entrance, and is almost 100 feet wide.