• Comparing the nutritional quality of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) diets

      Bando, Monica Kaho Herkules (2002-12)
      Though the primary cause(s) of the Steller sea lion decline remains unknown, one hypothesis is nutritional stress, possibly the result of climatic regime shifts reducing prey availability and/or quality. Researchers at the Alaska SeaLife Center formulated three feeding regimes representative of Steller sea lion diets: prior to and during their population decline and from a stable population. The purpose of this project was to compare the nutritional quality of these diets using proximate composition and bomb calorimetry. The pre-decline and stable diets are composed of more high-fat prey, like herring, with resulting energy densities being significantly higher than the decline diet, comprising more low-fat prey, like octopus. Assumining the feeding regimes analyzed represent Steller sea lion diets prior to and during their population decline and in stable populations, results from this study are consistent with the possibility that nutritional stress is a cause of the Steller sea lion decline.