About 40 sea lions lounged on the rocks at the Benjamin Island haulout north of Juneau, but one was special. A thin, white plastic packing band encircled his neck, cutting into his skin.
Two biologists studied the animal from a skiff 40 yards off the rocks. Lauri Jemison and Jamie King of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game discussed possible ways to free the entangled animal. None seemed very promising.
Jemison is studying sea lion entanglements in Alaska, and working on ways to reduce entanglements and free animals that are wrapped in ropes, netting, plastic packing bands and rubber loops. Sea lions will sometimes chase salmon that fishermen have hooked, catch the salmon and wind up getting hooked into fishing gear. But trash is probably the biggest problem, and the most easily preventable.
QUOTE: "Any kind of loop that goes into the water can be deadly. A small loop can be deadly to seabirds and fish, a larger loop can entangle marine mammals. Synthetic materials are the worst. A simple solution is to cut any kind of loop you might have. Trash on board a boat, or if you're having a picnic on the beach.
Bait boxes have those packing bands around the box, that's a hard plastic material, and if that isn't cut we see animals entangled in that. Other types are black rubber bands, rubber inner tube material that are used to secure crab pots. Loops in rope, fishing line, nets, anything like that can potentially be hazardous.