Sea Otter Three-Part Series in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Sea Otter Three-Part Series in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Dan Haifley, Executive Director of O’Neil Sea Odyssey, writes a column for the Santa Cruz Sentinel called Our Ocean Backyard.  Beginning on October 25, 2014 a special 3-part series on sea otters is being published as part of this column.  The next parts of the sea otter series appear on November 8th and November 22nd.

In the first part, Dan looks at sea otters and their role as “kelp managers”, keystone species, their population history in California, their current range and population status, and other facts and important points about the sea otter.

In part two, Dan explores the natural history and various daily behaviors of the charismatic, vitally important sea otter.  And, at the end of part two he includes the theory of Dr. Tim Tinker as to why the population growth trend has “stalled”.

The series wraps up on November 22nd examining the history of a very controversial program that began in the late 1980s known as the “No-Otter Zone”. The original intention of this program is to protect the population from a catastrophic event by moving a group of sea otters to one of the Channel Islands, San Nicolas Island.  This relocation or translocation of sea otters had the hope that if there were some large-scale impact that could threaten the entire population in California, there would be a population safely tucked away from the mainland.

The program that created a “No-Otter Zone” in southern California was fraught with problems, unexpected consequences, and a general failure to meet certain goals in protecting the sea otter population.

Friends of the Sea Otter has been a lead organization in trying to eliminate the “No-Otter Zone” in the nearly 3 decades since its creation coinciding with the translocation program to move sea otters to San Nicolas Island.  During that period, some of the controversy has taken place in court, where it currently resides awaiting an appeal by a segment of the fishing community who does not agree with a January 2013 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to eliminate the “No-Otter Zone” once and for all.  Friends of the Sea Otter and our colleague organizations, represented by EarthJustice, are involved in defending U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision in court.

We’ll continue to keep our members, supporters and the sea otter fans apprised to what is going on.  Stay tuned.

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