Protected Chilean sea lions no longer hunt, they follow fishing boats, wreck nets, gobble catch

Source:AFP Published: 2018/12/24 18:05:19

Off the coast of Chile, fishers are facing competition from a cunning carnivorous hunter that has decimated their industry due to its voracious appetite.

People who make their living on the sea say sea lions are a "plague."

"They're an enemy!" complained Mario Rojas. "We try to make them go away but it's impossible!"

Sea lions were once hunted mercilessly all over the world, leaving some populations close to extinction.

Chile has protected the animal for the last 28 years and hunting them for their prized fur is illegal.

Liberated from their most dangerous predator - humans - the number of sea lions has rebounded in part by scavenging and stealing from fishers.

The sea mammals have learned 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 bodies that can weigh around 300 kilograms, they destroy fishing nets and gobble up the treats inside.



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