[20] The theory that orca predation has been responsible for these declines remains controversial, and so far there has been no direct evidence that orcas prey on sea otters to any significant extent. Sea Otter Conservation brings together the vast knowledge of well-respected leaders in the field, offering insight into the more than 100 years of conservation and research that have resulted in recovery from near extinction. Sea Otter pelts were highly prized because they are soft and thick; sea otters have the thickest fur of any animal. It has a genetic lineage that is all its own and this information is both interesting and informative for phylogenetic research and assignment. Since then, most commercial hunting of the species has been banned, although a limited amount of hunting by indigenous peoples has been permitted. Fish and Wildlife Service attempted to manage the competition between sea otters and fishermen by creating an "otter-free zone" from Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border. The orcas that prefer marine mammal prey usually attack seals, sea lions, and small cetaceans, and have occasionally been seen preying on gray whale calves. This publication assesses the issues influencing prospects for continued conservation and recovery of the sea otter populations and provides insight into how to handle future global changes. This species of sea otter is actually native to the Eurasia. Sea otters have been protected by the International Fur Seal Treaty since 1911. In the UK IOSF is the only charity solely dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters based on years of scientific research in the UK and around the world. [16], California is the only location where the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) subspecies is found in significant numbers. [15] It is not known if they died or moved away. Females are slightly smaller, weighing 14-33 kg and measuring 1-1.4 m in length. In cooperation with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), SeaWorld breeds Asian small-clawed otters as part of AZA's Species Survival Plan (SSP). Description and ecological characteristics. Come with us on an unforgettable journey behind the scenes during a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens Camp. This species of sea otter can grow and reach the number of 95 cm in length for its body and 35 cm in length for its tail. Sea Otter Conservation Workshop XI Seattle Aquarium March 29-31, 2019 By Gena Bentall The biennial Sea Otter Conservation Workshop, hosted by the Seattle Aquarium, has become the hottest scene for biologists, zookeepers and aquarists, advocates, and government specialists working with or interested in sea otters. Otter - Otter - Conservation and classification: Nearly all species of otters face increasing threat as urbanization and logging continue. It has only recently begun to reappear in Mexico and northern Japan. Hunting nearly wiped out the entire population by the early 1900s. Learn more about the Seasonal Camp Counselor program at SeaWorld. [13] As of 2004, sea otters have repopulated all of their former habitat in these areas, with an estimated total population of about 27,000. In 1938, a couple testing a telescope discovered a group of about 50 of these animals in a remote part of the coast near Big Sur, California. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to designate critical habitat for the species, as required by the Endangered Species Act. Departments of Interior and Commerce. [36], The causes of the recent difficulties for California's sea otters are not well understood. At the request of the U.S. Reintroductions of wild-caught sea otters to southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington have been successful, although efforts to reintroduce California sea otters to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California were not as successful. Sea otter population growth has stalled in recent years and many hurdles for full population recovery remain. The sea otter preys mostly upon invertebrates such as sea urchins, diverse mollusks and crustaceans, and some species of fish. [17], In recent decades, the sea otter population the Aleutian Islands of western Alaska has plummeted. [30], 59 sea otters were translocated from Amchitka Island to Washington in 1969 and 1970, with annual surveys between 2000 and 2004 recording between 504 and 743 individuals. The most significant threat to sea otters is oil spills. At SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, we extend our commitment to the environment beyond our company by supporting a variety of conservation groups and programs. Between 1741 and 1911, a period of extensive hunting for sea otter pelts, known as "the Great Hunt", brought the world population to 1,000 – 2,000 individuals in a fraction of the species' historic range. Article submitted by Brandi Katz, Sea Otter Research and Conservation Volunteer Coordinator This September marked the end of the three year Elkhorn Slough Sea Otter Field Project . Sea otters can drown if entangled in fishing gear. Otters Endangered Many of the different species of Otters have been heavily hunted in the past. A dead Sea Otter due to oil affecting its fur from the Exxon Valdez oil spill from NOAA. Scientists from the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), in cooperation with other facilities and volunteers, coordinated efforts to rescue and treat sea otters affected by the 1989 oil spill. Sea otter numbers have declined in southwestern Alaska over the past 20 years. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. IOSF is therefore working to provide a series of workshops to train more people from the region in otter field techniques, public awareness programmes, law enforcement and general conservation issues. Otters are a charismatic species that can be used to drive conservation initiatives and inspire people. The International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) is one of the world's leading otter charities. After the years of the Great Hunt, the population in these areas, currently part of Russia, was only 750. Sea otters have faced many threats over the years. “It would change the game in terms of how we look at sea otter conservation… [6][7][8] Prevention of oil spills, and preparation for rescue of otters in the event of one, are major areas of focus for conservation efforts. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), some rescued California sea otters are being monitored in long-term studies in zoological parks such as SeaWorld San Diego. [19], Some Alaska orcas specialize in preying on marine mammals and others on fish. coast. These animals are apex predators, critical for the maintenance of a productive, healthy and diverse nearshore marine ecosystem; for this reason and others, it’s important to understand all the factors that may affect the health of sea otter populations. IUCN/The World Conservation Union is a worldwide conservation organization. In the 1980s, the area was home to an estimated 55,000 to 100,000 sea otters, but the population fell to around 6,000 animals by 2000. [16] In 1973, the sea otter population in Alaska was estimated at between 100,000 and 125,000 animals. Sea Otter Viewing Tips Here are some viewing tips to help you enjoy watching sea otters and other marine wildlife in … Otters are highly charismatic and popular animals of very considerable concern to conservationists worldwide. While population numbers of the northern sea otter located in this region have still declined, the population hasn't been affected nearly as drastically as southern sea otters. North American river otters (L. canadensis) are still taken as part of the commercial fur trade, but the primary threats to others are the destruction of wetland habitats and pollution. Otter Conservation Index. The small geographic ranges of the sea otter populations in California, Washington, and British Columbia mean that a single major spill could be catastrophic for that state or province. Beginning in the 1980s, the U.S. [8] The state has listed the sea otter as an endangered species since 1981. Current IUCN Conservation Status of Sea Otters|Conservation Evidence|NOAA UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Sea Otters|Check the Seafood Watch List for this species Two hundred years ago, a million sea otters may have ranged along the 9,650km of Pacific coastline from northern Japan, through the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, down the coast of California to Baja Mexico. [34] For the subspecies to be delisted from the list of threatened species, the count must average 3,090 or more over three years. The effort saved about 200 of the 350 rescued sea otters, although many later died after being released. Written by the pre-eminent authority in the field, Otters: Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation builds on the reputation of the author's landmark monograph of the European otter, Wild Otters. This treaty between U.S., Russia, Japan, and Great Britain was established to ban large-scale commercial hunting of sea otters and fur seals and to allow their populations to recover. and are the smallest marine mammal in North America. [23] Each otter was tranquilized and thoroughly washed and dried. ... Their conservation in Singapore is an international success and a national pride. In the Aleutian Islands, a massive and unexpected disappearance of sea otters has occurred in recent decades.[when?] Otter Hunting The concept of Otter hunting is one that dates back to the 1700’s according to … In the protected environment of a zoological park, scientists can examine aspects of otter biology that are difficult to study in the wild. If you come across a sea otter you think is sick, injured or abandoned, please give it space and call The Marine Mammal Center’s stranding hotline at (415) 289-7325. Managers, governments and conservation groups will need to work together to avoid disproportionate economic loses in small communities and for Indigenous peoples and to mitigate potential conflicts between humans and sea otters that can result in illegal sea otter killings. Download free teacher guides to keep students learning in a hands-on way: includes vocabulary, classroom activities, goals and objectives. Gwaii Haanas lies about 100 kilometres off the northern British Columbia coast. It is not known if this colony, which had a size of about 300 animals in 2004, was founded by translocated otters or by survivors of the fur trade. About 360 sea otters were rescued and treated at nearby rehabilitation facilities. This Action Plan gives an overview of otter biology and the conservation issues that affect all 13 species, and also practical guidelines and cautions to those intending to pursue conservation projects on otters. Sea otter pups begin to learn to swim at around 4 weeks old. Come face-to-face with the wonders of wildlife through species-focused episodes and related classroom activities. Estimates vary from 2,000 to 6,000 sea otters. Excellent and lithe swimmers, the young are in the water by 10 weeks of age. Beginning in the 1960s, efforts to translocate sea otters to previously populated areas were also successful in restoring sea otters to other parts of the west coast of North America. The sea otter was once abundant in a wide arc across the North Pacific ocean, from northern Japan to Alaska to Mexico. [18] Also, populations have declined in areas of open water frequented by orcas, but not in nearby lagoons where orcas are absent. Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter's primary form of insulation is an exceptionally thick coat of fur, the densest in the animal kingdom. The region's population of large whales was decimated by commercial whaling in the 1960s. For ingested oil, scientists administered a treatment of activated charcoal, given orally, to bind to the hydrocarbons in the crude oil and allow them to pass through the intestine. This species of sea otter can grow and reach the number of 95 cm in length for its body and 35 cm in length for its tail. Determine and review on a continuing basis the status and needs of otters, and promote the implementation of necessary research, conservation and management programmes by appropriate individuals, organisations and governments. Other threats to sea otters are well-known. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. The tail comprises less than a third of the body length. Conservation programmes are far more effective when organised by local people but in Asia there are very few scientists working on otters and their habitats. [32] Unusually high mortality rates amongst adult and young adult otters, particularly females, have been reported. Since its inception in 1984, the program has saved many individual members of the threatened California sea otter … © 2021 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Over 1,000 oiled sea otter carcasses were recovered,[21] with the actual number of deaths estimated to be several times that number. [13] Growth has slowed slightly, suggesting that the numbers are reaching carrying capacity. A 2006 report from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council named the sea otter as one of several species still being affected by the lingering oil in the area. 2. Enhydra lutris, also known by its common name of Sea Otters, are 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 current estimated population of 3,000. SeaWorld parks rescue and rehabilitate orphaned, ill, and injured otters. CITES is an international treaty, developed in 1973, to regulate trade in certain wildlife species. [4] They can also be stressed by well-meaning human watchers who approach too closely. It has been proposed that a low level of genetic variation of the population, due to its history of population bottlenecks, may be a contributing factor. Although it can walk on land, the sea otter is capable of living exclusively in the oce… [32] T. gondii encephalitis was also strongly associated with shark bites, perhaps because the disease causes abnormal behavior that increases the likelihood of shark attack. [18] One controversial hypothesis is that orcas have been eating the otters. [25] A little over a year later, the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit arguing that the U.S. The primary objective of the MMPA is to maintain the health and stability of the marine ecosystem and to obtain and maintain an optimum sustainable population of marine mammals. 41 years later and counting, their conservation status remains unchanged and their future uncertain. The Congo clawless, neotropical, and hairy-nosed otters are listed as "data deficient" (not enough data are available to determine the species' risk of extinction). Modern efforts in sea otter conservation began in the early 20th century, when the sea otter was nearly extinct due to large-scale commercial hunting. Join the Seattle Aquarium for the largest meeting of sea otter biologists in the world at our Sea Otter Conservation Workshop. Commentary: Cute otters and pangolins get saved but are ugly animals a lost conservation cause? [8] Attempts were made to move 93 sea otters to the Oregon coast in the 1970s, however none have been seen since the early 1980s. The conservation measures listed in Table 3 are prioritized on a high, medium, or low scale relating to the direct contribution each measure would have on the conservation of the Sea Otter in Canada. Increasing the size and the range of sea otter populations will also reduce the effects of catastrophic oil spills. The goal of the SSP is to preserve, in zoos and aquariums, animals that are threatened or endangered in the wild. Figure 5. [13] The success of the sea otter's recovery in Russia has been credited to large-scale and long-term protection, enlargement of the species's range, and human emigration from the islands. The smooth-coated otter is listed as "vulnerable" (has a high risk of extinction), and the Eurasian and Asian small-clawed otters as "near threatened" (has a potential future risk of extinction). [19], The March 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the sea otter population in Prince William Sound. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. By 1911, hunting for the animal's luxurious fur had reduced the sea otter population to fewer than 2000 individuals in the most remote and inaccessible parts of its range. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, "Final Washington State Sea Otter Recovery Plan", "National Marine Sanctuary Frequently Asked Questions", Ecoscenario: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, City of Monterey | Harbor | Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary History, Population dynamics and present status of sea otters (, "Aleutian Sea Otter population falls 70% in eight years", "Lacking a decent meal, killer whales reach for the popcorn", "Sea Otters – Southwest Alaska Sea Otter Recovery Team (SWAKSORT)", "Lawsuit Seeks to Sheild (sic) Alaska Sea Otter", "British Columbia: Sea Otter Research Expedition", "Aquatic Species at Risk - Species Profile - Sea Otter", "California otters rebound, but remain at risk", "Sea otter shooting in Moss Landing investigated by feds", National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, "What's Killing California's Sea Otters? 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( ESA ) is one of the body length has grown to around 3,000 appreciation... Fishing gear well in captivity, and over the next five months given intensive rehabilitation size and the quickly! On an unforgettable journey behind the scenes during a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens Camp return of this keystone species meaning! 9 ] [ 22 ] Approximately 350 oiled sea otters were rescued treated... Pups at the time of the Great hunt, the return sea otter conservation keystone! 125,000 animals are threatened or Endangered in the Kurils, 2000 to 3500 on and... Has the thickest fur in the 1960s hundreds of otters which continued to swim at around weeks... Park guests to preserve, in December 2014, the expansion of Great... Pattern of disappearances is consistent with a rise in orca predation the U.S 1.2-1.5 m length... 'S sea otters are a social species—females and their future uncertain spill from.. Zoo careers, Inc. all Rights Reserved inch of skin, this species has the densest of. 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