Alternate Title

The Status of Seals in the Gulf of Mexico with A Record of Feral Otariid Seals Off the United States Gulf Coast

Document Type



The only seal native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean area is the West Indian seal (family Phocidae). It is tan on the upper surface and a yellowish white underneath. It is now extinct or nearly so. Two seals were reported in Louisiana near the mouth of the Mississippi in January 1966. Photographs of one animal taken from a helicopter showed an otariid seal. In late June a light colored otariid seal began to reside on the buoys of the ship channel leading into Mobile Bay. It stayed there about two and a half weeks. The animal was a light tan in color and was a female, with a large healing scar on the right side. It was formerly reported from buoys off Cedar Key, Florida, and a newspaper photo verified that account. The animal was similar in all respects to the California sea lion. It washed up on the beach of the Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana with a bullet hole in it and badly decomposed on 11 August 1966. On 3 April 1967 another sea lion, possibly the second Louisiana specimen, was photographed off Pensacola. Five verifiable records of the California sea lion in the Atlantic have been reported ranging from Louisiana to Newfoundland. Probably man was always involved in their transportation. The California sea lion can probably establish self-sustaining populations in the Atlantic Ocean.

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