Monday January 16, 2023

The Seattle Times

The earthy, fishy smell wafted aboard Joseph Gaydos’ research vessel first. Then came the guttural growls.

Dozens of massive tan Steller’s sea lions were resting on the rocky islet.

Gaydos, science director at SeaDoc Society, estimated 100 sea lions were hanging out. Sites like this one, at Whale Rocks off Lopez and San Juan islands, are now havens for more of the charismatic sea lions and seals than ever.

And they’re hungry for the Pacific Northwest’s endangered salmon.

While seal and sea lion populations are at the highest since counts began, salmon populations that help feed the mammals are down to 6 to 7% of their historical abundance, Gaydos said.

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