Diets of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in Southeast Alaska, 1993-1999


Trites, Andrew W., Donald G. Calkins, and Arliss J. Winship
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The diet of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) was determined from 1494 scats (feces) collected at breeding (rookeries) and nonbreeding (haulout) sites in Southeast Alaska from 1993 to 1999. The most common prey of 61 species identified were walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus), Pacific salmon (Salmonidae), arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias), rockfish (Sebastes spp.), skates (Rajidae), and cephalopods (squid and octopus). Steller sea lion diets at the three Southeast Alaska rookeries differed significantly from one another. The sea lions consumed the most diverse range of prey categories during summer, and the least diverse during fall. Diet was more diverse in Southeast Alaska during the 1990s than in any other region of Alaska (Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands). Dietary differences between increasing and declining populations of Steller sea lions in Alaska correlate with rates of population change, and add credence to the view that diet may have played a role in the decline of sea lions in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands.