Vancouver Aquarium's (845 Avison Way) Stellar's Bay sea lion exhibit is the most recent step in the Ocean Wise Initiative's 25 year sea lion conservation effort.
Stellar sea lion populations (found in the northern part of Japan, Russia's east coast, the Aleutian Islands and down the west coast of Alaska, British Columbia and northern California) have decreased by 80 percent since the 1980s, a possible result of malnutrition, caused by natural changes and lack of quality prey species, and fewer pups being born each year, among other factors. The research conducted by Ocean Wise's Vancouver Aquarium, in conjunction with the University of British Columbia and the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium, aims to address this drop in population, advance the understanding of the species, educate the public about marine conservation and implement longstanding change.
The exhibit opened to the public on July 1st, featuring above and below ground viewing of the six sea lions in residence. The large dry platform at the back of the exhibit, complete with a weigh scale, provides the room necessary for scientists and trainers to interact with the sea lions in full view of Aquarium visitors, allowing further education of their contribution to the conservation of aquatic life on a daily basis.
Long term research aims to investigate how variance in prey effect sea lion condition, health and energy balance. This summer new studies will investigate sea lions' food sources, their sense of smell and heart physiology.