Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Up to 368 California sea lions face execution by Oregon and Washington state workers for the crime of eating endangered salmon on the Columbia River near the Bonneville Dam.  The states are authorized to kill 92 of the federally protected pinnipeds annually through June 2016.  The sea lions will be branded with hot irons, hazed with rubber bullets and explosives, and killed by lethal injection or shotgun for eating less than 4% of the salmon at the dam.  All of this mayhem, conducted on the dime of taxpayers, takes place while commercial, sport, and tribal fisheries are allowed to take up to 17% of the same endangered salmon and the dam itself claims approximately 17% of adult salmon.

Sea lions have been documented on the Columbia River since the time of Lewis and Clark.  They are a natural part of the ecosystem; they eat fish to survive.  Although the Marine Mammal Protection Act protects California sea lions in the United States, a 1994 amendment provided for the lethal removal of sea lions as a means of protecting endangered salmon as they pass by the dam.  Sea Shepherd believes this shortsighted policy scapegoats sea lions and fails to address the real threats to salmon including mutilation in the turbines and spillway of the concrete monster Bonneville Dam, predation by non-native fish, degraded spawning habitat, competition with hatchery-raised fish, and overfishing by humans.  Absurd regulations that penalize sea lions with death for sustenance consumption while allowing for hundreds of thousands of endangered salmon to be swallowed up by commercial, recreational and tribal fisheries are an environmental folly.  In short, killing sea lions does not help save endangered salmon.

In 2012, Sea Shepherd established a Dam Guardian Campaign.  Our volunteers are on the Columbia River to save lives, defend biodiversity and protect marine habitats.  We are concerned about the sea lions, the salmon, and the waterways that politicians have failed with their myopic and reckless management plans.  We believe that by our constant vigilance at the Bonneville Dam and in Astoria, we can affect change.  Please take a look at this site and learn about ways YOU can become involved in our efforts.

Facts about sea lions and salmon on the Columbia River

  • The Marine Mammal Protection Act protects sea lions in the United States.
  • Some California Sea Lions have chosen the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River as their feeding grounds.  The dam is located about 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon.
  • Several groups of people in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho want to blame these sea lions for “taking their fish” and have used the sea lion as a scapegoat, even though the amount of salmon caught by these sea lions equals approximately only 1%.
  • On behalf of these groups, the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho petitioned the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to grant them authority to kill the sea lions. This group has lost prior cases in court, but managed to kill sea lions before the rulings took place. A new application was submitted on their behalf on August 18, 2011, once again requesting authority to lethally remove individually identifiable California sea lions seen eating salmon at Bonneville Dam.  On March 15, 2012, NMFS again granted the states’ request, authorizing state agents to kill as many as 92 federally protected California sea lions each year for 5 years – a total of 460 animals.

The following list based on NMFS estimates shows the percentages for salmon takes in the Columbia River:

  • Sea lions consume between 0.4% and 4.2% of the 80,000 to 300,000 salmon that spawn in the Columbia River each year.
  • The dams along the Columbia River take up to 60% of juvenile salmon and up to 17% of adult salmon.
  • Human fishing activity takes approximately 16% of the adult salmon from the river.
  • Non-native, introduced sport-fishing species consume up to 3 million young salmon a year.
  • Birds eat up to 18%
  • Sea lions take roughly 1%
  • In addition, by-catch of Columbia River salmon in open ocean fisheries contributes to the loss of Columbia River salmon.



Humans kill 100 million sharks a year
...and for what?


  • shark fins for a tasteless bowl of soup
  • shark teeth for jewelry
  • shark jaws for tourist souvenirs
  • shark skin for leather wallets/belts
  • shark cartilage capsules and powders for phony medicinal cures
  • shark liver oil for cosmetics/skin care products


Sharks are in Danger

100 million sharks are killed each year-by longlines, by "sport" fishermen, or by a barbaric practice known as shark finning. Hooked sharks are hauled onto boats; their fins are sliced off while they are still alive. These helpless animals are then tossed back into the ocean where, unable to swim without their fins, they sink towards the bottom and die an agonizing death.


With 90% of the world's large shark populations already wiped out, sharks are being depleted faster than they can reproduce. This threatens the stability of marine ecosystems around the world. Sharks are vitally important apex predators. They have shaped marine life in the oceans for over 400 million years and are essential to the health of the planet, and ultimately to the survival of mankind. Sea Shepherd patrols marine protected areas, exposing the corruption that drives this multi-billion dollar industry and directly intervening to stop the brutal slaughter of sharks.


Learn about the
Sea Shepherd and LUSH
shark campaign success!
Watch video Shark Fin Soup and sign the petition to save sharks!
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Shark Finning

Shark News

What Can Be


Coral Reef Overview

  • Coral reefs are among the oldest and most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth, which have formed over the last 25 million years.
  • Often referred to as the "rain forests of the sea", coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment. Reefs are home to 25% of all marine life and form the nurseries for about a quarter of the ocean's fish which rely on healthy coral systems for their survival.
  • Coral reefs occur in over 100 countries and support at least a million described species of animals and plants, and another 8 million coral reef species are estimated to be as yet undiscovered.
  • Coral reefs form natural barriers that protect nearby shorelines from storms and erosion, thereby protecting coastal dwellings, agricultural land and beaches.
  • These fragile ecosystems provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for important fish species; they are hotspots for marine biodiversity.
  • Recent scientific studies estimate that 25% of the world's reefs are already gone or damaged beyond recovery and over 60% are degraded or under risk of collapse. Even under ideal conditions, it would take more than a lifetime for some reefs to recover.
  • Reef degradation is highest in Southeast Asia where nearly 95% of the region's reefs are threatened, mainly due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices.
  • In Jamaica, it is estimated that almost all of the reefs are dead or severely degraded from overfishing and coastal pollution. Due to the drastic decline in fish stocks, local fishers are now straining fish larvae out of the sea for fish soup.
  • Human impacts are also occurring on U.S. reefs, due to wildlife trafficking for the aquarium trade. For example, in Hawaii, the top ten aquarium fish species have decreased by 59% over the last 20 years, while the most popular aquarium fish has declined in abundance from 38 to 57%
  • Coral reefs simply can not support unlimited resource use or unmanaged global trade. Continued decline of healthy reefs will pose serious consequences for people worldwide.
  • Coral reefs are in a state of global crisis due to human imposed stresses that are threatening their survival, including:
    • overexploitation of resources for subsistence and commercial fishing
    • destructive fishing practices that degrade and destroy habitat
    • marine debris and pollution
    • wildlife trafficking for the aquarium trade
    • increasing coastal populations and development
    • poor land use practices and watershed runoff of pollutants, sediments and nutrients
    • disease outbreaks, which may be linked to poor water quality and pollutants
    • coral bleaching, associated with increasing seawater temperatures and climate change
    • removal of coastal mangrove forests


The Whales' Navy

In Defense of Whales Worldwide

As a result of an injunction imposed upon the organization on December 17, 2012, by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society no longer participates in the Southern Ocean whale defense campaigns.

The Southern Ocean whale defense campaigns are coordinated by Sea Shepherd Australia Limited, a separate organization, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society cannot accept donations or volunteers for those campaigns.

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) enacted a moratorium on all commercial whaling. Since then, three nations - Iceland, Norway, and Japan - have brutally slaughtered over 25,000 whales under the guise of scientific research and for commercial purposes. The IWC does not have the capacity to enforce the moratorium. Sea Shepherd, guided by the United Nations World Charter for Nature, is the only organization whose mission is to enforce these international conservation regulations on the high seas.

Highlights from our past three decades include:

whales_home_01b_Nisshin_2_by_GeddenRamming and disabling the notorious pirate whaler, the Sierra
Shutting down half of the Spanish whaling fleet
Documentation of whaling activities in the Faeroe Islands chronicled
spacerin the BBC documentary Black Harvest
Scuttling half of the Icelandic whaling fleet and whale processing station
Scuttling of the Norwegian whaling vessels Nybraena and Senet
Confronting and opposing Japan's illegal whaling in Antarctica

Sea Shepherd has gone on to end the careers of 9 illegal whaling vessels, saving thousands of whales. These campaigns and other Sea Shepherd efforts have kept the issue of whaling in the international spotlight for the past thirty years.


Support Sea Shepherds unique efforts to safeguard whales around the world

Sea Shepherd's mission is to end the destruction of habitat and the slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

bottom row credit Bob Talbot


Sea Shepherd