July 25, 2014
Earlier this week, Georgia Aquarium Director of Zoological Operations/Animal Training & Interactive Programs, Dennis Christen, embarked for a two-week trip to Alaska in order to assist the Alaska SeaLife Center in conservation efforts for endangered Steller sea lions. Below is an introduction to the project and update on the journey thus far from Dennis himself:
July 23, 2014
Everything is loaded, the team is aboard, and we are about to cast off from the dock in Seward's small boat harbor. Despite the long cruise ahead and a forecast that suggests it will be a bumpy ride, there is an excitement in the air. The course is set for Prince William Sound, a beautiful region at the very northern part of the Gulf of Alaska made infamous by the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster of 1989.
It is 7 p.m. and the plan is to sail through the night to reach our first stop, a haul-out (a predictable location on land where pinnipeds, seals and sea lions, congregate to rest and socialize) of Steller sea lions on the Southeast side of Glacier Island. It will take 13 plus hours to get to there, and while it is a fairly stable haul-out - one in which we routinely encounter large numbers of sea lions- like many things in this part of the world, there are never any guarantees and only time will tell if we will see them there in the morning.