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Restore Live Access Sea Lion Video

$4,585 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 44 people in 2 months
The Alaska SeaLife Center (a non-profit organization) has been using remote video cameras for studies of Endangered Steller sea lions  in the Gulf of Alaska since 1998.  However, the video cameras, antennas, and related equipment are now long outdated and nearing complete failure.  We have learned quite a lot about Steller sea lion behavior and population dynamics over the course of this research study, but it is highly important to continue this work while threats remain to the population recovery.  This call for funding is needed to purchase and install new digital video cameras and related equipment to ensure uninterrupted, non-invasive monitoring of an endangered species.  With the new equipment, we will continue tracking many individual animals, telling their stories of survival and life challenges to the world!  The live video stream of wild Steller sea lions will be made freely available to the public on the internet at www.alaskasealife.org.   Your donation will help make this happen!  All donations will aid our efforts to maintain this video research project even if our goal is not met.  



Additional Details about this Project:
Between the 1970s and 2000 Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) experienced a striking, 80% collapse in their population throughout much of Alaska.  This resulted in their 1990 listing as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act and subsequent uplisting to Endangered in 1997 for the western portion of their range where declines were most severe.  Predominant theories for the population decline include increased predation by killer whales, direct and indirect effects of commercial fisheries, and major changes in their prey base as a result of warming ocean temperatures.  However, because there was very little detailed scientific research being conducting during the height of the decline, no one can be certain what the major causal factor(s) was or were.  There has been no general consensus among scientists of a single cause for the population decline.  The Alaska SeaLife Center began a long-term, detailed monitoring study at a trend site rookery in 1999 to fill gaps in our knowledge related to the greatest potential threats for this species.  This study takes place through the use of a remotely controlled video system on a trend site rookery in the Gulf of Alaska.  This video system is, however, nearing complete failure.   Yet, continuation of this work is essential in order to identify which ecological or anthropogenic factors may be affecting vital rates of pregnancy and survival, and by extension, population recovery.  

The funds received for this project will be used to purchase and install the latest digital video equipment, wireless antennas and essential hardware.  We currently hope to reach our funding goal by October 15, 2018. Purchase and testing of the equipment will occur during 
the winter of 2018-19 and remote installation during April-May 2019.  Thereafter, breeding and pupping season observations will be conducted by a team of experienced biologists and qualified interns.  Further, the general public will be able to view much of what the researchers are seeing online at our website.  The video is not currently viewable online because the quality is very poor and unreliable.  The primary goal of this project is to improve video quality and reliability to both researchers and the general public.  Entirely new equipment is the only way to achieve this goal. 

Using the remote-control video system from a laboratory at the Alaska SeaLife Center, we can observe and share the unique and individual stories of these animals.  Many of the sea lions we view on the rookery are known to us through natural markings or from tags applied by researchers when they were young pups.  These animals have long-term histories that extend more than a decade in several cases providing us with extremely valuable data regarding lifetime reproductive success and longevity.  In early May each year, massive 2,000-lb breeding bulls show up to fight and defend territories for their chance to breed with females that arrive between late-May and early-July.  Pregnant females must first give birth and it is important for us to know how many are giving birth in each year in addition to how much time they are spending on shore nursing and caring for their pups as opposed to out at sea feeding.  Much additional drama may ensue throughout each year as we watch births, storm waves that can wash pups out to sea, predation by killer whales and other trials that newborn pups can be subjected to.  Your participation in these studies will help our understanding of how best to focus our conservation efforts.  Steller sea lions are a vibrant and integral component of the network of life in the northern Pacific Ocean and it would be tragic to lose this iconic species.  Please join us in this work to help conserve them for future generations. 

More information about findings from this long-term study can be found here:  http://www.alaskasealife.org/science_spotlight/37/66

 
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We have now exceeded one third of our funding goal with more than $10,000 in GoFundMe and additional private donations! Contributions to this campaign have allowed us to order a new pan-tilt-zoom camera and router switch to begin testing within our network, and new digital antennas will be ordered by mid-summer.

The peak pupping and breeding season for Steller sea lions at the Chiswell Island rookery is occurring now. It appears to be another very poor year in terms of birthing numbers. Your GoFundMe support gives us the help we need to better understand reasons for the disturbing trend of reduced births and inform management agencies.

Thank you all for supporting this highly important, non-invasive research of an Endangered species!

Picture of thin-looking Steller sea lion pups on the Chiswell Island rookery 6/9/18. Your donation will help to improve image quality and allow expansion for additional non-invasive research tools.
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$4,585 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 44 people in 2 months
Funds raised will benefit:
Seward Association For The Advancement Of Marine Science (Ala...
  Certified Charity
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Seward, AK
EIN: 920132479
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