Even though they are still listed as endangered species, thankfully, the numbers of these adorable creatures have now rebounded to reach 125,000. The spring 2019 mainland sea otter count began on May 1 and was completed by July 9. All of our Coverage From the 2019 Sea Otter Classic. December 9, 2019. The southern sea otter was widely believed to be extinct due to the expansive fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, which reduced the global population from between 150,000 and 300,000 to roughly 2,000. “That means they have a bigger effect than almost any other animal for their size on their ecosystems,” said USGS Western Ecological Research Center Research Biologist Tim Tinker. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The continuing conflict between fishermen and sea otters is not new. The State Coastal Conservancy is now accepting applications for its 2020 Sea Otter Recovery Grants. U.S. The conservation and management of sea otters has benefited from a dedicated research effort over the past 60 years enabling this species to recover from a few thousand in the early 20th century to about 150,000 today. A study from the University of California, Davis, identifies the parasite’s specific strains that are killing southern sea otters, tracing them back to a bobcat and feral Once containing more than half of the world’s sea otters, this population segment, which ranges from Kodiak Island through the western Aleutian Islands, has undergone an overall population decline of at least 55–67 percent since the mid-1980s. 41 years later and counting, their conservation status remains unchanged and their future uncertain. Many wild southern sea otters in California are infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, yet the infection is fatal for only a fraction of sea otters, which has long puzzled the scientific community. Using existing studies and modeling of sea otter growth, the researchers concluded that the San Francisco Bay could support about 6,600 sea otters, more than twice the … Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, were listed as threatened in 1977 under the Endangered Species Act. Their primary food source includes shellfish. fmars-05-00510 January 17, 2019 Time: 18:39 # 2 Davis et al. The authors of these data require that data users contact them regarding intended use and to assist with understanding limitations and interpretation. San Francisco Bay could act as a haven for California’s threatened southern sea otters and could potentially triple the existing population, according to a … Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. Study data were based on the releases of 37 sea otter pups rescued by the Sea Otter Program from 2002-2016. The surface canopies of kelp (predominantly Macrocystis pyrifera) were qualitatively noted by observers to be much less than the seasonal normal in the central portions of the range (from Monterey to Cayucos) and about normal near both ends of the range. Tinker, the researcher who works out of the University of California in Santa Cruz, said it’s happening up and down the Pacific coast. // Jessica Saavedra Collectively these are known as Southeast Alaska’s dive fisheries and last year they brought in about $12.4 million. Aleutian Islands was once home to around 80 percent of all the sea otters around the world. Sea otters first became protected from the fur trade by the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911, after the population had decreased to about 2,000 as a result of unrestrained hunting for furs. Because the censuses represent uncorrected total counts (rather than sample-based surveys), they cannot be considered as accurate estimates of true population abundance. Study finds California could triple southern sea otter population by recolonizing San Francisco Bay . The otters are covered by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. By Gear Patrol. Population. Mar. 2019). Overall viewing conditions this year were very good, better than those encountered during the 2018 spring census (View Score = 3.0 this year compared to 2.4 last year, where 0=poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=very good, and 4=excellent). Although these data and associated metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the display or utility of the data on any other system or for general or scientific purposes, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. That’d be around 75,000 sea otters over the next 30 to 40 years. The 2019 census of southern sea otters ( Enhydra lutris nereis ), also known as California sea otters, was conducted from early May to early July along the mainland coast of central California and in April at San Nicolas Island in southern California. The spring 2019 mainland sea otter count began on May 1 and was completed by July 9. Ranges from Attu Island east to the Kodiak Archipelago and the Barrren Islands, and north to the Pribilof Islands (Gorbics and Bodkin 2001). Brent Hughes, assistant professor of biology at Sonoma State, is the lead researcher in a new study concluding that California could more than triple its population of southern sea otters. These sea otters belong to … The surface canopies of kelp (predominantly, Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Census Summary Shapefile, Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Extra Limit Observations Shapefile, Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Range Extent Shapefile, Click on title to download individual files attached to this item, Annual California sea otter census - 2019 spring census summary.xml, Build Version: 2.169.0-190-ga993b3c-0 For one, they can’t just open a hunt on sea otters. The range-wide index, defined as the 3-year average of combined counts from the mainland range and San Nicolas Island, was 2,962, a decrease of 166 sea otters from … Sea otter numbers have declined in southwestern Alaska over the past 20 years. Then in 1914 a remnant population of about 50 southern sea otters was found along the rugged Big Sur shoreline. That’d be around 75,000 sea otters over the next 30 to 40 years. Your place to keep tabs on all the big bicycling news being made just outside of Monterey, California. Population Historically, sea otters numbered between 150,000 and 300,000 animals throughout the Pacific Rim. Sea Otter Conservation. All rights reserved. ... (2019, June 18). The range-wide census is conducted to monitor trends in abundance of the southern sea otter, and thus provide State and Federal resource agencies with the information they need for effective management. Efforts to ease conflicts over Southeast Alaska’s growing sea otter population are underway. Overall viewing conditions this year were very good, better than those encountered during the 2018 spring census (View Score = 3.0 this year compared to 2.4 last year, where 0=poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=very good, and 4=excellent). He recently published a paper estimating that Southeast Alaska’s carrying capacity could be three times the present population. Remnant population. They also eat sea cucumbers. There's hope for the endangered southern sea otter population, according to a study out of Sonoma State University that predicts the population could more than triple from about 3,000 to … But even if federal and state managers wanted to curb the growing sea otter population, their options are limited. These otters were cared for using the aquarium’s resident sea otters as surrogate mothers, and then released as juveniles into Elkhorn Slough. They were reintroduced in the 1960s with 412 animals brought from Amchitka Island and Prince William Sound. Since then, they’ve done really well. Southern Sea Otter. The most recent assessment estimates a population size of 54,771 individuals, with a minimum population size of 45,064 (Muto et al. Today the population hovers around 3,000 individuals, with a large segment of that population in Central California waters. They numbered from 150,000 to 300,000 worldwide before the fur trade. California Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) Census Results, Spring 2019 By Brian B. Hatfield, Julie L. Yee, Michael C. Kenner, and Joseph A. Tomoleoni Abstract The 2019 census of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, was conducted from early May to early July along the mainland coast of The sluggish recovery of the southern sea otter of California, a threatened population on the Endangered Species list, appears to have stalled once again. Reduced range and population size, vulnerability to oil spills, and oil spill risk from coastal tanker traffic were the primary reasons for listing. “We also feel pressure and criticism for not reducing our harvests because of the sea otters.”. The 3-year average counts are used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in its listing determinations (de-listing or up-listing) for this legally threatened population. Future Directions Sea Otter Research 18th and 19th centuries reduced sea otter populations to less Phil Doherty, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association, said that when you add up all of divers, the deckhands, tenders and processors on the slime line, it’s significant for the winter economy. Known as a sprawling and energetic “celebration of cycling,” Sea Otter is cycling’s North American season opener. That means they can only be hunted by coastal Alaska Native people for subsistence or traditional crafts. But their success has changed their environment as they’re a keystone species. California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. A separate, [...]. Nor is it limited to Alaska. Results from this year’s (2019) sea otter population count have revealed the population has dropped to 2,962 individuals, below the threshold. “We feel pressure from industry to elevate harvest rates to try to take advantage of those species before they’re gone,” he said. The last official estimate in 2012 shows that there are more than 25,000 of them. | Jan 29, 2019 | sea otters. Instead, these data represent a valuable time-series of index counts, and provide the means of assessing spatial and temporal trends in relative abundance. “If we don’t have a government shutdown, we want to have a report available and produced on our website sometime early in the calendar year of 2020,” he told CoastAlaska. After a day-long meeting in Juneau, wildlife and fisheries managers, fishing industry and tribal representatives formed committee to recommend ways to manage the species. A hundred years ago, the fur trade wiped out sea otters in Southeast Alaska. “So from an economic point of view, these dive fisheries are important.”. “But I think with all the stakeholders working together, you know, people with different interests and different understandings of these ecosystems, I think I think there are solutions, but it’s going to be it’ll be a long road.”. Many of them are commercially harvested species like red sea urchin and geoduck clams. The grants will be funded by the California Sea Otter Fund, which is one of the state’s voluntary tax check-off funds that allows taxpayers to contribute additional money for use towards the recovery of California sea otter populations. U.S. Geological Survey scientists say the latest 3-year average (2,813 sea otters) was 0.5 percent lower than last year, the first time the trend has been negative since the late 1990s. Solutions sought to ease conflicts over Southeast Alaska’s rising sea otter populations, conflicts over Southeast Alaska’s growing sea otter population, Tinker, the researcher who works out of the University of California in Santa Cruz, carrying capacity could be three times the present population, In Tlingit land-rights loss, a Native American rights attorney lays out injustice and hope for the future, On Alaska lawmakers’ wish list: income taxes, a ban on police chokeholds and business protections from COVID lawsuits, Dunleavy will appeal permit denial for the proposed Pebble Mine, Alaska Supreme Court strikes down Rep. Lance Pruitt’s challenge to his election loss. by Davis et al. Professional and amateur athletes alike make the annual pilgrimage to Sea Otter to participate in some of the sport’s most competitive and enduring events. The otters, whose population rose to nearly 26,000 in the latest assessment updated in 2014, are under federal protection and managed by the U.S. © Alaska Public Media 2020. Finally, due to the emerging significance of white shark bites to otters and other predator impacts (Jorgensen et al., 2019), we anticipated that the traditional sea otter trophic model may need revision. (2021-01-08 14:34), Western Ecological Research Center Approved Data Releases, Annual California Sea Otter Census - 2019 Spring Census Summary, California sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) census results, spring 2019, https://www.sciencebase.gov/vocab/category/item/identifier. “Many of those effects are really disruptive to the existing, you know, commercial activities like shell fisheries that have developed.”. “There’s no simple solution,” Tinker said. Hatfield, B.B., Yee, J.L., Kenner, M.C., and Tomoleoni, J.A., 2019, Annual California sea otter census - 2019 spring census summary: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9B2KNB3. Fish and Wildlife Service. The spring 2019 mainland sea otter count began on May 1 and was completed by July 9. Click on title to download individual files attached to this item. Some sea otter populations went extinct, including those in Oregon and British Columbia. Sea otters along the mainland coast were surveyed from Pigeon Point in San Mateo County in the north, to Santa Barbara Harbor in Santa Barbara County in the south. Since the end of the fur trade, sea otter numbers are believed to be down to 1,000 to 2,000 worldwide… Southern sea otters, also called California sea otters, live in waters along the California coastline, ranging from San Mateo County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south. 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