Marine Mammal Entanglement
Pinniped Entanglement in Marine Debris
The Marine Debris Threat
Marine debris adversely impacts at least 260 marine species, including marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds. Marine debris is any man-made object discarded, disposed of, or abandoned that enters the marine environment. Every year many seals and sea lions in Alaska unnecessarily suffer or die from ingesting fishing gear or getting caught in marine debris.
Please let NMFS know if you see injured, entangled or dead marine mammals in the water or on the beach.
Types of Marine Debris
Material looped around a marine mammal’s neck often becomes too deeply embedded to identify like in this photo of an entangled Steller sea lion.
Steller sea lion with neck wounds from a black rubber band.
LOOPED MATERIAL: Some of the deadliest marine debris is likely to wrap around the neck of the sea lion or seal. The materials that most commonly cause neck entanglements are:
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
- Loose the loop! CUT ANY LOOP that may become marine debris
- Go bandless. Eliminate the use of packing bands
- Keep marine debris (especially loops and lines) out of the ocean and off the beaches
- Support the development of biodegradable fishing gear
- Support recycling of monofilament line
|Packing bands cause more than 50% of neck entanglements of Steller sea lions in Alaska.|
|Large black rubber bands are often used on sport and commercial crab pots|
SWALLOWED MATERIAL: Swallowed material includes hooks, lures and line. These can be “silent killers”, causing unseen injury and death from within. Ingested fishing gear is usually:
- Salmon fishery hooks and flashers (lures)
- Longline gear
- Bait hooks
Steller sea lion entangled with flasher and hook.
Steller sea lion jaw bone with decay from an embedded hook. Photo: Rod Palm
|A Radiograph showing swallowed hooks. Photo: F. Gulland, Marine Mammal Center|
Identifying Causes and Finding Solutions - Video
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Sea Gypsy Research teamed up with Moore and Moore Films and Marni Productions to produce the following educational video. The video describes how sea lions become entangled, the most common sources of entangling debris, and what you can do to help reduce the number of entanglements. WARNING: some of the entanglement images may be disturbing. (external link)
How to Report Entangled Marine Mammals
Please let us know if you see injured, entangled or dead marine mammals in the water or on the beach. The most important information to collect is the date, location of animal (including latitude and longitude), number of animals, and species. Please don't move or touch the animal.Stranding Report Phone Numbers
(for the general public)
- NMFS statewide 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (877) 925-7773 or (877) 9-AKR-PRD
- Protected Resources Office:
- Juneau: (907) 586-7235
- Anchorage: (907) 271-5006
- Alaska SeaLife Center Stranding Hotline: (888) 774-7325
Online Stranding Report Form
(for the general public)
The Alaska Pinniped Entanglement Group is a collaborative effort between the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, and NOAA Fisheries.