Thursday, 10 January 2019

Protected Chilean sea lions are the 'enemy' of fishermen

December 22, 2018 by Miguel Sanchez
Chilean fishermen have branded sea lions "a plague" because of the competition they provide in catching fish
Off the coast of Chile, fisherman face competition from a cunning carnivorous hunter that has decimated their industry due to its voracious appetite.
For Chile's fishermen, sea lions are a "plague."
"They're an enemy!" complained Mario Rojas to AFP. "We try to make them go away but it's impossible!"
Part of the wider seal family that was once hunted mercilessly all over the world, leaving some populations close to extinction, the South American sea lion in Chile has been protected for the last 28 years.
Hunting them for their richly prized fur is illegal.
Liberated from their most dangerous predator—they are still prey for sharks and orcas—the sea mammal's population has been on the rise, helped in no small part by the abundant fodder they manage to steal from fisherman.
They have learnt to distinguish the sound of the fishing boats' motors, allowing them to follow the vessels as they head out to sea.
"The sea lions don't hunt anymore. They hear the noise of a boat and they know that the food is there," said Rojas.
With their sharp teeth and the enormous power in bodies that can weigh around 650 pounds (300 kilograms), they manage to destroy the fishing nets and gobble up the treats inside.

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