Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stellar's Sea Lions Developing Taste for Sturgeon

PATRICK O'NEILL of The Oregonian
"Since about October, wildlife workers have seen sea lions eat 347 white sturgeon near the [Bonneville] dam. That compares with 264 killed the previous season.

All but one this season was eaten by Steller sea lions, which are much larger than their California sea lion cousins. California sea lions migrate up the river later in the spring. Sea lions' appetite for salmon is well-known. In recent years, more and more of them have gathered below Bonneville Dam to intercept salmon on their way upstream to spawning grounds.

Corrarino [of Oregon DFW] says the salmon run is just beginning. But Steller sea lions appear at the dam earlier and earlier each year, drawn by the new menu item -- sturgeon.
'Steller sea lions are being very opportunistic,' he says.
A five- to 10-mile stretch of the Columbia downstream from Bonneville Dam is one of the world's most prolific spawning grounds for white sturgeon, says Corrarino. "