Sea Shepherd Chile Gets the Opportunity To Help a Distressed Baby Sea Lion Amidst a Countrywide Debate Over a Proposed Sea Lion Cull
Commentary by Marco A. García León-Sea Shepherd Chile
April 8, 2012-The heavy swell in Iquique, Chile forced a baby sea lion to become separated from his mother and swept him into an area with heavy ship traffic. The baby sea lion had to struggle against the battering waves of the swell, the dangerous propellers of bypassing boats, and scattered debris on the ocean’s surface in his quest to reach the shore. Exhausted and near drowning, he finally reached the shore to be attacked by dogs.
Omar Pardo, owner of a local store immediately phoned Sea Shepherd Chile. Promptly we arrived at the location to assist the distressed baby sea lion. The Navy staff kindly offered their help with anything we needed. Then we assessed the sea lion's condition and were relieved to confirm he was fine, just tired and hungry. The next step was to show the baby sea lion that we were there to help him. We slowly introduced ourselves to him, letting him approach us at his own pace.
With the help and support of the Navy staff, we took the sea lion to the city’s marine rescue center. In the vehicle, he looked quietly at our eyes and leaned on our arms. Eventually he started to sleep and we realized he had reached a level of comfort with us and sensed that we wanted to help. He was able to recognize our intentions, which were to do our best to protect him from any danger.
We arrived at the marine rescue center and had to wake our little friend up. We entrusted him to the caring staff, until he could recover and be returned to his home. We expect to see him again swimming in the sea enjoying his freedom, without the threat of those who want to allow the capture and hunting of sea lions in Chile.
April 10, 2012-Happy news! The baby sea lion was released yesterday at Papache Beach by the authorities. Sea Shepherd supporters from Iquique City attended the event. The Sea lion was fully recovered and happy. Our volunteers will keep an eye on him, to monitor if he appears again at the beach.
Special Thanks to: Barbara Gajardo, David Gómez, Zico Henríquez, and all of Sea Shepherd Chile´s team and supporters.
Chilean Sea Lions are at the heart of a great debate. Despite the fact that sea lions are legally protected in Chile (capture and hunting activities are prohibited), there is currently a big discussion in the country about them. There is a serious lack of fish from the very north to the very South of Chile-along the entire coastline. Fishermen blame sea lions for that, but the obvious truth is that the problem is not the sea lions; it’s the aggressive and senseless industrial fishing and trawling taking place in our world’s oceans. Fishermen blame sea lions for destroying and damaging their fishnets. Salmon Farms blame them for destroying their cages and eating their salmons. Both parties are killing sea lions illegally for those reasons.
The Chilean fishing authority already gave an order to hunt 300 sea lions in Arica City, because “there is an overpopulation problem, they are eating fish and damaging people property”. None of those reasons are true. But, we have to ask ourselves, why these lies? Why are these people so intent on captures and kill quotas? The answer is simple: money talking.
There is not a single study proving sea lion overpopulation, however there are many companies looking to obtain sea lions as “clowns” for their so-called “aquatic parks”. There is also an underground market selling sea lion genitals to Asian countries touting false claims of aphrodisiac qualities.
Sea Shepherd Chile´s crewmembers have been investigating and documenting illegal activities regarding this subject for many months now. During the upcoming weeks, we will begin sharing all our information. Sea Lions are in great peril and we must protect them, no matter what.