The Impact of Human Activity on the Decline in Population of the Macquarie Island Elephant Seal

3060 words 13 pages
HOW HAS HUMAN ACTIVITY IMPACTED THE DECLINE IN POPULATION OF THE MACQUARIE ISLAND ELEPHANT SEAL?

Kylie Fraser 16622393
Curtin University
Word Count: 2500
1.0 Introduction
1.1 Problem Statement
Over a century ago the elephant seal population on Macquarie Island survived a period of severe over-harvesting. The practice of hunting seals for food, oil and skins had a high demand in the market and was largely carried out by Sydney based gangs (Bradshaw et al, 2003). During the early 1900’s Macquarie Island was declared a nature reserve and the hunting of seals came to a halt. After cessation of sealing, the population of the elephant seal increased but is still recovering. Over the years, a notable decline in the population has been
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Although fears of completion of prey from competition fishing trawlers may be of concern for the elephant seal as they are starting to go into unknown waters to find their prey (Van Den Hoff et al, 2002). 3.3 Different Effects Certain Human Activities have on the Declining Population of the Elephant Seal
A number of significant findings resulted from research when looking into different human activities. Among many potential threats to the elephant seal population included fisheries and overfishing, illegal fisheries, oil spills and increasing and destructive tourism (Burton & Van Den Hoff, 2002).
3.3.1 Fisheries and Overfishing
Once sealing came to a cease, fishing in the Antarctic, Southern and Indian oceans became the only major commercial fishing harvest and is operated at a large scale (Engelhard et al, 2002). Research has found that out of all the human related threats, fisheries and overfishing, is a major threat caused by humans to the seal (Engelhard et al, 2002). Hindell (1991) states that the major negative effects of fisheries on the seal population are:
Potential of overfishing and the lack of food source for the elephant seal
Destruction of habitat
Mortality of the seals caught by fishing equipment
Threats of illegal fisheries working outside regulatory framework
Pollution from oil spills and other discharges
Wilkinson and Bester (1988), suggests that one of the reasons for the decrease in population of the elephant seal may be due

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