Steller Sea Cow

By: Kate Campbell and Abby Outland

Hydrodamalis gigas

The Steller Sea Cow was discovered accidentally by a Russian expedition in 1741 on Bering Island. Around the year of 1768 the Steller Sea Cow went extinct due to overhunting only 27 years into discovery. It has also been said that the population went extinct due to a sea urchin population explosion.

Biological Data

The Hydrodamalis gigas were located in the Bering Sea and off the coast of the Aleutian Islands. They were found in the mouths of rivers and streams, they lived in herds in shallow waters close to shore. At the time of discovery there were fewer than 1,500. The Steller Sea Cow had very strong relationships and kept the young in the center of the herd away from danger. They were not hostile and were not startled by boats or people. Their primary food source was red and brown algae.

Steller Sea Cow

Ecological Effects of Extinction

There is not a lot of information or evidence on the effects of the extinction of the Steller Sea Cow because the extinction occurred so long ago. However, scientists assume that there was an increase in the amount of red and brown algae because there was one less species there to consume it. The Steller Sea Cow did not have a large effect on the neighboring species since they only ate algae and rested.

Could it Have Been Prevented?

Yes, this extinction could have definitely been prevented. Since the extinction was triggered by overhunting, the hunters could have slowed the rate of killing them or stopped killing them all together. If these actions were taken before the extinction we might have the Steller Sea Cow around today