A census conducted in 1978 yielded an estimate of 30,000-40,000 animals (Trillmich 1987). However, there was high mortality, especially of pups and yearlings during the 1982-1983 El Niño, and the amount of recovery since this time is unknown. The population appears to be fluctuating and population size is thought to be diminished markedly compared to the seventies (Alava and Salazar 2006), and current abundance is estimated to be around 10,000-15,000 animals. Methodological differences might exist in survey methods, but the suggestion of a decline in excess of 50% over this period is very concerning.
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