Showing posts tagged as "sea otters"
Good News for Sea Otter Conservation in Southern California
The Aquarium applauds this week’s decision by a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by fishing groups wanting to reinstate the controversial “no-otter” zone in waters off southern California.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the “no-otter” zone in 1987 as part of a larger sea otter translocation program, but the program ended in 2012 after it was deemed a failure. In 2013, fishing groups sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for ending the program. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on Monday, but the fishing groups have 21 days to amend their lawsuit.
Under the translocation program, the Fish and Wildlife Service hoped to establish a colony of sea otters at San Nicolas Island off Santa Barbara and was required to relocate any sea otters found south of Point Conception. Wildlife officials determined that the “no-otter” zone prohibited sea otters from being able to naturally expand their range into areas and habitats where they had historically been present. Scientists believe such expansion is necessary for recovery of the southern sea otter, a threatened species.
Before they were hunted to the brink of extinction during the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, it is estimated that more than 16,000 southern sea otters inhabited the west coast. Today’s population hovers below 3,000, and extends from just south of Half Moon Bay to south of Point Conception.
Sea otters play a critical role in ocean health, helping keep nearshore ecosystems in balance by eating sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. If left unchecked, these grazing animals can destroy kelp forests and leave barren zones in their wake. Recent research from Elkhorn Slough has shown that an increased presence of sea otters directly contributes to recovery and expansion of eelgrass beds, which serve as nurseries for numerous species and as important filters of carbon and contaminants in estuary waters.
Noticed a new otter on exhibit? Welcome back, Ivy! She joins rescued pup 649 and Gidget in our two-story display. Ivy—also known as Wild Child for her lively nature—was rescued near San Luis Obispo as a two-week-old pup in 2011.
The tax man cometh! Why not use the opportunity to do something good for our oceans? “Check the box” on your California return to fund research and conservation that will help save sea otters.
Need a new computer or mobile phone wallpaper to get your week started right? Just relax. We’re here for you.
Catch it now! Our friends at SeaOtters.com just added a live stream of their wild otter cam on Facebook. Earlier this morning we counted 20 otters in plain view! The cam was created thanks in part to your donations.
Help Us Find the Person Who Shot Three Sea Otters
In early September 2013, members of our Sea Otter Research and Conservation team recovered three sea otters that had been shot to death near Asilomar Beach, in Pacific Grove. State and federal authorities are actively investigating the fatal shootings, and now they need your help finding the perpetrator.
We and other sea otter conservation groups are offering a $21,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the crime.
Southern sea otters are slowly recovering after being driven nearly to extinction by fur traders in the 19th century. Today, they’re protected under federal law by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Killing a California (or southern) sea otter is a crime punishable by federal and state fines, and possible jail time.
If you have any information about the shootings, contact Special Agent Souphanya of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 650-876-9078. Anonymous reports can also be made by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contact line at 703-358-1949, or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTIP line at 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.
Reward contributions have been provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Sea Otter, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, The U.C. Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and private individuals.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is providing a portion of the reward money from the California Sea Otter Fund, which is financed by voluntary contributions from state taxpayers. The fund helps support sea otter research and conservation, including the investigation of sea otter deaths and the enforcement of laws protecting sea otters. When filling out your California income tax form 540, look for line 410, labeled California Sea Otter Fund, under Contributions.
We want your vote! What should be our next computer wallpaper?
My, how the cuteness grows! Otter 649 weighed less than seven pounds when rescued in November. Since going on exhibit January 21, the plump pup has reached a portly 19 pounds.
We like to say that our best exhibit is actually right off our decks: Monterey Bay! And this has never been more true than today—we have reports of gray whales and a mom and pup sea otter pair visible with binoculars.
Thank you Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary!
Who oughta be top otter? Help us choose this month’s computer wallpaper! Here’s the aaawful choice: Do you like exhibit pup 649, or the uber-cute pair who showed up briefly in our Great Tide Pool?