Save the World: Save the Sea Otters

Save the World: Save the Sea Otters

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Save the World: Save the sea otters

During the 18th and 19th centuries, sea otters were hunted for their luxurious pelts, and by the early 1900s, the species was believed to be extinct in California. (Carswell) Why do we care you ask, well not only are they super cute and eat with their hands. Apparently, a healthy population of sea otters keeps the sea urchin population in check. An unhealthy or small population of sea otters allows the sea urchin’s number to explode thus decimating kelp beds, which is the sea urchin’s food source, and causing a “chain reaction that depletes the food supply for other marine animals consequently causing their decline. (Kuipers)
Luckily, as the years grew Californians started to find sea otters roaming out in the water again. Slowly but surely the population was growing in these recovering areas, but the southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, were listed as threatened in 1977 under the Endangered Species Act. (Carswell) There are a number of reasons for why sea otters have come close to extinction.
For years poachers have hunted these animals and slaughtered them in order to obtain there amazing water resistant coats. By the 1900’s there was a treaty signed to protect all of the sea otters, and even after Japan withdrew from the treaty Canada and the United States still kept it in effect. Even after the poaching stopped the pollution continued. Sea otters find themselves submerged in the giant oil spills that the tankers cause. When oil gets into their fur is causes it to no longer be water resistant, therefore most sea otters die because they freeze to death. If they are in the warmer parts of the world, like California then the oil causes death from its toxins when the otters are trying to clean themselves. Oil spills and the garbage in the water are causing tons of marine deaths each year.
How do we start saving the sea otters? Well I think that we should start by strictly regulating the oil tankers, maybe have fish and game on the boats with them at all times to stop some of the crashes or leaks. We need to also figure out a way to stop people from littering into our waterways. I was thinking maybe close off the passages along the street so adults and children don’t even have the opportunity to litter in these waterways.

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If the noninvasive tactics do not work then it is time for humans to get involved. Monterey Bay Aquarium is doing an awesome job at helping with the sea otter project. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program has been studying and trying to save the threatened southern sea otter since 1984. They rescue, treat and release injured otters; raise and release stranded pups through our surrogate program; provide care for sea otters that can't return to the wild, and conduct scientific research. (Saving)
The good news carries us on to continue saving these amazing creatures. By 1911, when sea otters gained protection under international treaty, a small group of perhaps 50 otters survived along the remote Big Sur coast. Since then, they've slowly expanded their range and grown in number to nearly 2,800. As of 2012, their range extends from south of Half Moon Bay in the north to south of Point Conception in the south; only a small part of their historic range (Saving) Will sea otters ever regain their full number of otters back? We unfortunately do not know that answer, but what we do know is that their number is constantly growing. With the proper human intervention we are saving sea otters every day and hopefully one day they can get off the endangered species list.



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