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. Some sea otter populations went extinct, including those in Oregon and British Columbia. 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. Federal and state officials recently met with scientists, fishermen and tribal groups in Juneau to find solutions. Efforts to ease conflicts over Southeast Alaska’s growing sea otter population are underway. “We feel pressure from industry to elevate harvest rates to try to take advantage of those species before they’re gone,” he said. 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. The 3-year running average of the spring counts have been identified as the best index of trends and status of the population, because these averages decrease the influence of year-to-year sampling variance. Since then, sea otter populations have rebounded, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as a whole as Endangered. Population Historically, sea otters numbered between 150,000 and 300,000 animals throughout the Pacific Rim. California could triple the southern sea otter population by recolonizing San Francisco Bay SAN LUIS OBISPO —Sea otters frolicking offshore amid kelp beds and rocky shoals has become an iconic image of the California coastline. Study data were based on the releases of 37 sea otter pups rescued by the Sea Otter Program from 2002-2016. These otters were cared for using the aquarium’s resident sea otters as surrogate mothers, and then released as juveniles into Elkhorn Slough. He recently published a paper estimating that Southeast Alaska’s carrying capacity could be three times the present population. “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. 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). Southern sea otter status as indicated by recent surveys and strandings Brian Hatfield Population status 2:30pm Washington northern sea otters: population and causes of mortalities summary Deanna Lynch Population status 2:50pm A Bayesian model of Washington sea otter population dynamics Jessica R. Hale Population status 3:10pm These sea otters belong to … All of our Coverage From the 2019 Sea Otter Classic. The reduction in population is consistent with observations of elevated shark-bite mortality in the northern and southern regions of the otter’s range. “We also feel pressure and criticism for not reducing our harvests because of the sea otters.”. For one, they can’t just open a hunt on sea otters. 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. Fish and Wildlife Service. 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. 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. Because the censuses represent uncorrected total counts (rather than sample-based surveys), they cannot be considered as accurate estimates of true population abundance. A separate, [...]. Collectively these are known as Southeast Alaska’s dive fisheries and last year they brought in about $12.4 million. 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. “Many of those effects are really disruptive to the existing, you know, commercial activities like shell fisheries that have developed.”. Since the end of the fur trade, sea otter numbers are believed to be down to 1,000 to 2,000 worldwide… 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. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chief of Marine Mammals Management in Alaska Patrick Lemons said a looming political impasse in Washington D.C. could set things back. 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. 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 … All rights reserved. Your place to keep tabs on all the big bicycling news being made just outside of Monterey, California. They were reintroduced in the 1960s with 412 animals brought from Amchitka Island and Prince William Sound. Results from this year’s (2019) sea otter population count have revealed the population has dropped to 2,962 individuals, below the threshold. The sluggish recovery of the southern sea otter of California, a threatened population on the Endangered Species list, appears to have stalled once again. Nor is it limited to Alaska. Ranges from Attu Island east to the Kodiak Archipelago and the Barrren Islands, and north to the Pribilof Islands (Gorbics and Bodkin 2001). “I mean, we’re employing you know, five to six hundred people for four or five months,” Doherty told a room of about 100 interested stakeholders in Juneau. 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. Instead, these data represent a valuable time-series of index counts, and provide the means of assessing spatial and temporal trends in relative abundance. 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 A draft is expected by the end of the year. Then in 1914 a remnant population of about 50 southern sea otters was found along the rugged Big Sur shoreline. 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. Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Fishery Biologist Kyle Hebert said state fisheries managers have a hard job managing commercial stocks depleted by foraging otters. They numbered from 150,000 to 300,000 worldwide before the fur trade. 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 their success has changed their environment as they’re a keystone species. In addition, the location already supported a small population of male sea otters. 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