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St. Kitts Searcher on Water Island to Look for Missing Sea Lions

Oct. 28, 2008 — Staff from the St. Kitts Marine World went out in a Planning and Natural Resources Department boat Tuesday to look for two sea lions that escaped the park when Hurricane Omar passed over in mid-October.
They were spotted Sunday swimming near Flamingo Pond on Water Island, said Roberto Tapia, Planning's assistant director, on Tuesday. He did not have names of the people who spotted the sea lions.
Sea lions were spotted on St. Barts and St. Maarten before the Water Island sighting, said Marine World Director Pete Noah.
"We're pretty confident they're ours," he said. "Our intention is to get them home."
The animals escaped when wave action during the hurricane "pushed things around," Noah said.
"They're very wily," Noah said.
The facility was still under construction.
The two sea lions spotted on Water Island were among four South American sea lions and five fur seals that disappeared from Marine World during the hurricane, acording to the online St. Kitts newspaper SKNVibes. They arrived at the facility April 8 from Uruguay.
The sea lions can swim up to 50 miles a day.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia describes South American male sea lions as having a very large head with a well-developed mane. They are twice the weight of females. Both males and females are orange-colored, with upturned snouts. The manes on males are lighter than females, and female fur on the head and neck is lighter than that of males.
South American sea lions often forage at the ocean floor for slow-moving prey, but they will also hunt schooling prey in groups.
Coral World Marine Park on St. Thomas is assisting in trying to locate the missing animals. The park's curator, Lee Kellar, urged anyone who spots the sea lions to keep their distance.
"Untrained people, no matter how well-intentioned, may scare the animal and hinder rescue efforts," he said.
Report sightings to Planning at 774-3320 or Kellar at Coral World at 775-1555, ext. 222, or by cell phone at 340-690-3551.
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