Think About Sea Otters When Filing Your Taxes

Think About Sea Otters When Filing Your Taxes

It’s that time of the year…Tax Season. While sea otters don’t pay taxes, we can help them when we pay ours.  Since 2007, sea otters in California have benefitted from $1.75 million in taxpayer contributions that go towards efforts to protect and recover sea otters in California. This funding is critical because currently there is no other funding source for sea otter research and conservation efforts in California.

Each year the California Franchise Tax Board sets a minimum amount needed for each check off to meet in order for the Fund to appear on tax forms in the following year. This year the California Sea Otter Fund needs to reach $277,666 and it will be a challenge to get the word out as a collective paid advertising budget has been eliminated this year that would have normally provided for radio and website ads throughout the state.  This year we are dependent on creative ways to promote the check off fund and get the word out.  Word of mouth will be critical as well.

So, please help sea otters in California during this tax season. They are dependent on any contribution you can make.  Just seek out line 410 on your California Tax income form and give as little as $1.  You can find out more information on the California Sea Otter Fund and how the money has been used in the past by clicking here.
Linda Tanner 2 300x211 Think About Sea Otters When Filing Your Taxes

Giving During the Holidays Helps to Conserve Sea Otters and Their Habitat

Giving During the Holidays Helps to Conserve Sea Otters and Their Habitat

There are several opportunities to help contribute to conserving sea otters and their populations this holiday season! Friends of the Sea Otter is involved in these efforts to make giving during the holidays a “win-win” situation for sea otters.

Monterey County Gives Campaign

The Monterey County Gives campaign during this holiday season runs from mid-November through midnight December 31 and is a way to stretch your donation further through a portion of your contribution getting matched by the Community Foundation of Monterey partnering with the Monterey County Weekly for this campaign.

Thanks to the matching fund, your donation can have a bigger impact to Friends of the Sea Otter and to helping protect sea otters and their habitat. Click here to view our donation page.

Amazon Smile

Using Amazon for your holiday shopping? Want to help protect sea otters for no extra charge while purchasing gifts?

Amazon will donate 0.5% of purchases to an organization of your choice. Please remember Friends of the Sea Otter when filling your Holiday baskets by choosing us when you visit: https://smile.amazon.com/

Friends of the Sea Otter Holiday Gift Store

Share a Gift and Help Sea Otters! Friends of the Sea Otter is the world’s oldest sea otter organization dedicated to conserving sea otters and their habitats. Your purchase in the gift store will be used in support of Friends of the Sea Otter’s efforts to protect sea otters and their habitat in a number of ways. You can buy individual gifts our purchase our gift bundles as a membership package. We have a select number of bundles, each with their own unique gifts. Your donation will go towards Friends of the Sea Otter’s mission to conserve sea otters and their habitat. If you would like to make a donation, but would not like to receive a gift please use the donate button at the top.

Zazzle Store

If you are looking to buy someone that special gift for the holidays, there are a variety of items in Friends of the Sea Otter’s Zazzle Storefront.  Many of the items were designed using specially made artwork by Kelly Lance, done exclusively for Friends of the Sea Otter. And, if you are still decorating the Christmas tree, be sure and check out the Christmas ornament in the store.  A percentage of your purchase in our Zazzle Storefront will go towards Friends of the Sea Otter’s mission to conserve sea otters and their habitat.

 

Help Support Our “Big Idea” with the Monterey County Gives Campaign!

Help Support Our “Big Idea” with the Monterey County Gives Campaign!

Holiday Campaign Strengthens Sea Otter Protection and your Contribution!

 

Friends of the Sea Otter, the world’s longest standing organization dedicated to the conservation of sea otters, is participating in the Monterey County Gives campaign this holiday season!

That campaign runs from mid-November through midnight December 31 and is a way to stretch your donation further through a portion of your contribution getting matched by the Community Foundation of Monterey partnering with the Monterey County Weekly for this campaign.

Thanks to the matching fund, your donation can have a bigger impact to Friends of the Sea Otter and to helping protect sea otters and their habitat. Click here to view our donation page.

What is our Big Idea?

Any participant in the Monterey County Gives Campaign has to come up with a “Big Idea” that resonates with the population around the Monterey Bay and has applicability to the mission of each organization participating. Friends of the Sea Otter’s “Big Idea” is to focus on how to better communicate the best way for humans to respect sea otters and their habitat. Interactions between recreational users of Monterey Bay and sea otters are inevitable. The majority of people don’t intend to disturb sea otters, but it does happen more than it should. Friends of the Sea Otter plans to create a folded card, similar to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guides, that outlines recreational users proper etiquette and provides guidelines when out on the water and interacting with sea otters. The guide would be distributed to retail outlets such as kayak shops, dive shops, surf shops, hotels, state park and beaches visitor’s centers, etc.

As incidents of interactions between humans and sea otters continue to increase in disturbing sea otters, your donation will help educate ocean users about how to appropriately interact with sea otters in the wild and to minimize and ideally eliminate negative interactions that would impact sea otters in any way.

First Annual Photo Contest Winners and Vote for People’s Choice Winner

First Annual Photo Contest Winners and Vote for People’s Choice Winner

FSO otter surprise Tucey 300x178 First Annual Photo Contest Winners and Vote for Peoples Choice Winner

With all of the different issues and actions Friends of the Sea Otter is taking on throughout this year to protect sea otters, it was really special to take a small break and interact with talented photographers in our First Annual Sea Otter Photography Contest. With over 100 different submissions from a large group of photographers, its safe to say that this contest was as successful as it was popular!

We are now hosting the People Choice Contest this week in which two winners will be announced the following week! Please go to http://www.crowdtogether.com/friends-sea-otter-annual-photo-contest to log in and vote for the winner! Voting ends Sunday, October 27th at 10:00 PM.

We also would like to give a special thanks to our sponsors: Monterey Bay KayaksSanctuary CruisesPhil’s Fish Market & EateryKayak Connection, Elkorn Slough Safari for contributing gifts to the contest! 

Here are the results from the Photo Contest:

First Place:

Peter Monteforte, “Female Otter Feeding Pup”

Peter Monteforte Female Otter Feeding Pup1 300x230 First Annual Photo Contest Winners and Vote for Peoples Choice Winner

 

Second Place:

Jacqueline Deely, Sea Otter Eating Crab

Jacqueline Deely 2 300x199 First Annual Photo Contest Winners and Vote for Peoples Choice Winner

 

 

Third Place:

Efren Adalem, Sea Otter Charge

Efren Adalem 1 Sea Otter Charge 300x199 First Annual Photo Contest Winners and Vote for Peoples Choice Winner

 

Good and Bad News Accompany 11th Annual Sea Otter Awareness Week

Good and Bad News Accompany 11th Annual Sea Otter Awareness Week

As we make our way to the 11th annual Sea Otter Awareness Week and the various events and activities set up around the country and internationally, we reflect on the positive events in the realm of sea otter recovery and protection and what is troubling.

On September 12, 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey released the Spring 2013 California sea otter census.  The news is encouraging and gives us some hope about the future recovery of this population.  The 3-year average (population index) is listed as 2,941 sea otters.  This is an increase in the average from last year. This is great news,  however we

are cautiously optimistic about this increase. There is still much work to be done.

We’re still struggling to understand how disease, shark attacks, food limitations and other threats have kept this charismatic marine mammal on the brink over the last three and a half decades.

One of the sea otter’s major threats is a coalition of fishing groups. This coalition, represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which aims to uphold the decades old No-Otter Zone. Their lawsuit challenges the elimination of the No-Otter Zone that was finalized in January of this year by the Service. It’s no surprise, the No-Otter Zone is an impediment to sea otter recovery, as sea otters need to be able to expand their range southward to thrive and sustain a healthy population.  The lawsuit will turn back the clock on sea otter recovery in California. Friends of the Sea Otter, along with Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, and Defenders of Wildlife, all being represented by EarthJustice, has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, seeking to defend the Service’s decision to end the No-Otter Zone.

Along with defending the No Otter Zone here in California,  Friends of the Sea Otter has another battle up north. The state of Alaska, its fishing industry, and elected officials are trying to turn back the clock on marine mammal conservation more than 40 years by advocating for the management of sea otters. How are they suggesting they do this? Their answer: by killing sea otters for the sake of small commercial interest groups.

All sea otters are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This makes it illegal to hunt a sea otter or sell any products made from the body of a sea otter, Native Alaskans are permitted to do so, however. In this case, they must sufficiently alter a sea otter pelt into some kind of traditional artifact or handicraft before selling anything made from a sea otter. It is currently illegal for anyone, including Alaskan Natives, to sell unaltered sea otter pelts to non-Alaskan Natives.

FWS has a proposal to clarify some terms under the MMPA and Friends of the Sea Otter is focusing on their clarification of “significantly altered”. The proposed revised definition for “significantly altered” raises some serious concerns.  The definition of “significantly altered” is too broad and at odds with the MMPA and is being conducted without any environmental impact analysis. It isn’t as restrictive as it needs to be and could potentially result in blankets and rugs being made from sea otter pelts without “significantly altering” the pelt as is the intention of the MMPA. This would be devastating for sea otters and increase the market for their pelts.

In addition, this revision of the definition for “significantly altered” is being carried out under the pressure from fishing groups, who believe that the sea otter population in Southeast Alaska is destroying fisheries.  Equal pressure is mounting from state elected officials and the federal Alaska delegation to do something about a “growing” sea otter population.  Open season on sea otters in Southeast Alaska could greatly impact the species and set a disturbing precedent. It would allow an increase in the hunting of a wildlife species in an effort to manage and protect industry, which in this case would be fisheries.

With all of these emerging issues, it is even more important to highlight the need to protect and conserve sea otter populations. Sea Otter Awareness Week once again shines the big spotlight on the need for everyone to understand the plight of this species and help where you can.

Friends of the Sea Otter has been doing our part in sea otter conservation and recovery for 45 years and we need everyone to be a part of this effort to help protect this remarkable species and allow for many future generations to be able to view and know that there is a healthy and thriving population of sea otters wherever they are found worldwide.

 

Sea Otter Twinning: A Bittersweet Blessing

Sea Otter Twinning: A Bittersweet Blessing

Twin California Sea Otter pups spotted in Morro Bay. Great news right? While twins are often considered a blessing, this is not the case when it comes to sea otters.

Twins are a rarity among sea otters, and for good reasons. It is extremely demanding for a mother sea otter to raise two pups on her own. These demands are often so great that the mother must leave one pup behind. This was the case in the first report of twin sea otters in 1986, when the Marine Mammal Society observed a mother and her two pups. After some time, the mother let one of the pups drift, and did not retrieve it. The report also notes that in 1980 there was a sea otter mother who died during the pregnancy of twins. There is simply not enough room with two pups and one mother; twin pups spend more time in the water and less time suckling than a single litter pup would (http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2013/06/Jameson_Bodkin_twinning_1986.pdf). It is so strenuous for a mother sea otter to care for two pups because of the physical and metabolic demands required to survive in the environment in which they live. Soon after these pups in Morro Bay were spotted, researchers knew it was just a matter of time until the same scenario would repeat.

The scientists monitoring the sea otter twins knew that the abandonment of one pup was bound to happen. The Monterey Bay Aquarium had the intentions of taking in the pup that was left behind by the mother. The reason this has not happened, is because the mother made the decision to leave one of the twins when there were no scientists watching.

After a heavy fog settled over the water, the mother and her pups drifted out of sight. Now, there have been no reports of a mother sea otter in that area with twins. The problem is that there have also been no definite identifications of the mother. There is in fact a mother with a single pup who resembles the mother of the twins, and many scientists now believe it is indeed the right mother. Obviously, this would imply that the mother has made the decision to keep only one pup. Scientists continue to monitor the waters, but no abandoned pup has appeared.

The loss of this pup is tragic, The loss of this pup is tragic, but researchers continue to monitor sea otter populations and when a pup is discovered abandoned, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and others try to step in and help it.. We can all agree that it is beyond cute witnessing two fluffy pups resting on the belly of a mother sea otter, which makes twinning sea otters so bittersweet.