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Author Topic: Sea Doc Society  (Read 5025 times)
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« on: February 19, 2017, 07:36:42 PM »

My work place has another illustrious guest this week: Joe Gaydos, a wildlife veterinarian, and the science director of the Sea Doc Society, based on Orcas Island in Washington State.

From the society's home page:

"The SeaDoc Society, founded in 1999, conducts and sponsors scientific research in the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest, also known as the Salish Sea.

Our mission: The SeaDoc Society works to protect the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems through science and education.

We work to figure out whatís happening to our local species, and why. And then we share that information by facilitating collaboration and networking among the different agencies, governments, and individuals who make the decisions about how the 8 million people living in the Salish Sea can live in harmony with the marine environment.

SeaDoc strives to find science-based solutions for marine wildlife in the Salish Sea using a multi-species approach. We work to advance stewardship in at-risk places, respond to emergency ecosystem health issues, educate the community, and train current and future leaders."

Joe gave us a talk yesterday evening, lucky us!
Several of the topics he covered are also presented in the first video, in the middle of this page (scroll down a bit to find it.)

Joe added a lot of information about our local sea lions, and about the ways the wildlife vets deal with entanglements.
The web site is worth exploring. We are part of the society's study area, and the videos and posts on the web site, and also the recently-published book, The Salish Sea, are worth a good look.
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« Post / Reply #1 on: February 20, 2017, 03:07:07 AM »

Thank you for this information Wrennie. I have ordered the book now. It is wonderful to know about such awareness in people.  nod
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« Post / Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 08:52:14 PM »

Joe told us some great stories about sea lion and whale rescues.

Sea lions often get entangled, getting plastic things stuck around their neck. Rescues are devilishly difficult. The sea lions are usually sedated remotely, by shooting a dart full of medication into the shoulder. Image trying to do that, from a boat, to a sea lion who is hauled up with a few hundred of his buddies.

Now, you're trying to sedate an animal who can dive for several minutes, can slow down his pulse almost to nothing, not to mention the size... Previous drug combinations used to depress the animal's breathing, so a sea lion who dove into the water after being shot would sink to the bottom and die.

The scientists from Vancouver Aquarium are now using a new combination of three drugs that circumvent these problems. The animal continues breathing slowly and will float in the water, taking a small breath from time to time even while sedated. The sedation lasts until an antidote is administered.

So it goes roughly like this: someone with fabulous aim shoots a dart into the entangled animal's shoulder. If the sea lion is on land, the rescuers then have to gently shoo away all the other sea lions... Gently and gradually so they don't trample the sedated one. Then they can approach and cut off the entanglement.

As you can imagine, only a very few of the hundreds of entangled animals can be rescued this way. But what I like about the Sea Doc society is that the heroics are not the big thing... Research and prevention are.
So after observing many entangled animals, and rescuing the few they could, they figured out the most common cause of entanglement: those white plastic straps from packaging! So what's next? Talk to really big shippers, like Amazon, and convince them that they need to change their packaging materials. What about something that would degrade after a few days in salt water?

Humpback whales, in Puget Sound, get entangled mostly in crab-fishing gear... So Sea Doc asks, what changes can we make to the fishing gear so that the whales are less likely to get tangled? What historical methods worked better, or how can new technology help?
Then in both case there's the education aspect... Promoting community shoreline cleanups, promoting the organizations that collect derelict fishing gear from the sea floor... No big glory in prevention but it may save more animals than any other approach.

Click here to see a blog post by Vancouver Aquarium about shared efforts with the Sea Doc Society to rescue entangled sea lions.

The same story, with less details, from Sea Doc's point of view here.
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« Post / Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 06:31:56 AM »

Than you for the interesting information, wren.  I hope they can come up with a dissolve-in-seawater formula!  That would be a real environmental contribution.


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