The San Diego Zoo has a pair of Steller’s sea-eagles along the Eagle Trail.
Eagles and humans
This vulnerable species is given complete legal protection in Russia, the only place it breeds, and in Japan, where it overwinters. In spite of these protections, human behavior continues to harm the remaining sea-eagle population. In Russia, Steller’s are losing their habitat because of the development of hydroelectric power projects and logging in the forested areas where they nest. And the rivers where the eagles fish are being contaminated by chemicals from local industries.
In Japan, sea-eagles eat both fish and carrion. Overfishing by humans in Japanese waters has led the eagles to scavenge on sika deer remains left by hunters. Eating carrion filled with lead shot from the hunters has had devastating effects on the eagle population, leading to the outlawing of lead ammunition on Japan’s Hokkaido Island. As of 2006, the world’s population was estimated at 5,000 birds, but it is slowly decreasing.
Still much to learn
Very little is known about these eagles, especially their early years. San Diego Zoo Global and Natural Research, Ltd. are studying the movements of young Steller’s sea-eagles in their native habitat in hopes of protecting the species in the wild. The San Diego Zoo also has a pair of Steller’s sea-eagles and has loaned pairs of birds to four other zoos in the United States. We hope that seeing these amazing raptors up close will encourage visitors to participate in the conservation of this rare species.
You can help us bring species like the Steller's sea-eagle back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.