Wildlife Emergency Response has recently made an organized effort to protect the sea lions of Point Dume. Over the past six months, sea lions have begun congregating in this one particular area. From five to 50 to 100, the population has grown to well over 160 animals. This large group of sea lions taking up residency on the rocky cliffs of Point Dume is unusual and of great significance.
Starving from the effects of El Nino, did they come from the Channel Islands to find food in our coastal waters? Could they be forming a new colony (breeding ground) or are they establishing a haul-out, a place to rest? When you look at our coastline, seals and sea lions have no place to go — every mile of beach is developed and frequented by humans and dogs, except maybe this one small rocky cove. They have chosen Point Dume for some reason and we should do everything possible to welcome their arrival with respect for their need for privacy.
Point Dume, with its draw of tourists and fishermen, poses a serious threat to the health and well being of this population of animals; the integrity of this group could be ruined by too many disturbances. Sea lions are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act which forbids disturbing them — altering their normal behavior in any way, intentionally or not. But these animals are in dire need of local protection.
While documenting the growth of this population, we have recorded fishermen throwing rocks at the animals and tourists clapping their hands, sending a hundred animals into the surf. It is for this reason, having witnessed the lack of respect and consideration for wildlife and the lack of common sense by the people we’ve encountered, we have been aggressively seeking protection of this area.
We have created signs and, in cooperation with State Parks, National Marine Fisheries Service and the Coastal Commission, they will be posted soon. We have organized a watch program with shifts of volunteers sitting hours on the point keeping watch over the animals and educating the visiting public. Because it is now birthing season for this species, we have had to increase our watch program if we are to protect these animals.
This letter is to thank all our volunteers who are helping to protect these sea lions. They have given of their free time, their weekends, hours upon hours, to see that these wonderful creatures are undisturbed. This letter, too, is an invitation to others who wish to be a part of our sea lion watch program. Call us at 457-WILD if you are interested.
Wildlife Emergency Response