Raft of sea lions swims near Alaska researchers

- Researchers on a marine bird survey near Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve encountered a large raft of sea lions in March.

The National Park Service released video of the raft along with details of the survey on Tuesday, May 22.

For more than 10 years, the National Park Service has worked with the US Geographical Survey and Gulf Watch Alaska to monitor marine birds at the park, wrote Deanna Ochs, a park service researcher.

The surveys are completed annually in the summer and semi-annually in the winter.

“In addition to tallying animals, these studies help identify critical coastal areas in the parks,” she wrote. “They highlight where birds congregate and which species are likely to be found there. Armed with such specifics, park management is better equipped to develop policies protecting sensitive areas when faced with human impacts to the coast, such as oil spills, development, and changing shipping lanes.”

But the birds aren’t the only animals researchers will encounter. Ochs wrote they spied wolves along the coast and sea lions sunning themselves. The sea lions also swam in a group when they saw the boat, which can be seen in the video.

“Experiences like these reveal the character and intelligence of these amazing marine mammals,” Ochs wrote. “Sadly, their western populations are endangered. Surveys such as this help wildlife management agencies understand their needs and better protect them.”

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