State discusses killing seals and sea lions in Puget Sound

Perhaps the most controversial idea out of the Orca task force has been the notion of killing sea lions and seals to help salmon survive. Like many ideas, this one is simplistic and has the greatest appeal to people who don’t want to spend much time thinking about whether something works or just makes you feel like you are doing something. Fish and Wildlife are holding meetings to gather information on whether or not this really is an idea with merit. Biologists who study the food chain aren’t so sure. If you think you already know the answer, then you should read this article. “There is no guarantee of a response by the salmon in terms of returning adults.” And you know what an assumption is, it’s a word made up of and makes an “ass of u and me”. Let’s put the science of this in it’s rightful place, which is at the head of the train and not tow it along in our ill informed wake.

State wildlife commissioners heard testimony Friday about whether a seal and sea lion cull could help save salmon, and thereby restore food to the starving Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW)…. “It’s important to set the stage that this occurs in a very complex ecosystem and it is a very complex food web,” said WDFW Research Scientist Scott Pearson…. “If you want a 25 percent reduction in the total juvenile Chinook consumption by seals, we have to reduce this number of 19,000 seals down to 14,300. If you subtract this number from this number, that’s how many we have to remove 4,700 seals, and we have to annually remove 530 seals per year to keep it at that level,” Pearson said. But the problem is, salmon also face a slew of other challenges, including hydropower, hatcheries, habitat, disease, and contaminants. Scientists told commissioners they don’t know whether killing seals and sea lions will do anything at all…. “In my opinion, even if the seal consumption were somehow reduced or eliminated, there is no guarantee of a response by the salmon in terms of returning adults,” said WDFW Research Scientist Joe Anderson. Alison Morrow reports. (KING) See also: Puget Sound resident orcas limited by social behavior  Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

State discusses killing seals and sea lions in Puget Sound 

One Response

  1. I don’t know how to interpret this article. The author says “scientists estimate” which is a really vague and misleading introduction, followed by: “A single seal may eat around 1.4 million juvenile Chinook per month”. I don’t know what “may” means here, maybe they do, maybe they don’t? If things are that vague why mention it at all?

    But if we assume that “may” means that 1.4 million is an average, then putting this together with 19,000 seals (a number which the article also calls into doubt) yields a consumption rate of 26.6 billion salmon (that’s BILLION) per month, or 319 billion/year, which isn’t even anywhere near the ballpark of the 5.2 to 26.8 million juvenile Chinook that scientists estimate were eaten by seals in 2016.

    Since a middle-of-the-road interpretation of the very squishy numbers in the article yields a discrepancy of 4 orders of magnitude, it’s hard to put much faith in anything in the article. I think that we ought to be demanding higher standards from the media rather than promoting their click-bait. And if you have any doubt about the editorial integrity of the publisher of that article, just look at the advertising on their site — it’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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