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Steller Sea Lion Coordinated Research Program 2002-04 Archives

(PLEASE NOTE: These web pages are for archival purposes only and are no longer maintained. For current information on Steller sea lion research at the AFSC visit the National Marine Mammal Laboratory's Alaska Ecosystems Program. )

The Steller Sea Lion Coordinated Research Program, administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Alaska Fisheries Science Center, was composed of hundreds of research projects conducted on Steller sea lions. This research, conducted at institutions around the world, was made possible by Congressional funding directly to the following organizations:

In addition, research on Steller sea lions has been initiated through the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center  a collaboration of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Pollock Conservation Cooperative, a consortium of fishing companies that participate in the Bering Sea pollock fishery).

Steller sea lion range and rookeries
Steller sea lion range and rookeries. Click image to enlarge

This intense research interest in Steller sea lions is due to their steep population decline since the 1970s from causes that have yet to be determined. The world population of Steller sea lions includes two stocks divided at 144E W longitude (Cape Suckling, just east of Prince William Sound, Alaska). The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listed the Steller sea lion as threatened rangewide under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in April 1990. The decline has continued for the western stock in Alaska, which was declared endangered in 1997. The eastern stock remains listed as threatened.

Research projects in the program's database are organized using a framework that recognizes both the kind of research being conducted (research themes and subthemes) and the cause of the population decline being investigated (hypotheses). Furthermore, each causal or contributing factor (e.g., environmental change) may manifest itself in different ways (e.g., decreased production, changes in prey distribution). Therefore, specific questions that relate factors to the decline of Steller sea lions are listed for each project. Other information for each project included in the database are project title, funding source, last name of the principal investigators and e-mail addresses, institution where the research is being conducted, geographic location of the research, project type, expected date of completion, keywords to describe the project, a list of related projects, project descriptions, and project reports.

NOAA Technical  Memorandum NMFS-AFSC-129, Steller Sea Lion Research and Coordination: A Brief History and Summary of Recent Progress  summarizes the evolution of Steller sea lion research over the past two decades and describes the development of the coordinated research program that responds to Congressional intent. The paper is available for downloading in pdf format.