Did you know that sea otters are a keystone species? Because of the critical and outsized influence, they have on … A California sea otter floats off Moss Landing. Without the sea otter, fishermen began to see changes in the ecosystem. “It would change the game in terms of how we look at sea otter … 2010). United States ; California (CA) Monterey County ; ... 299 Foam St Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey, CA 93940-1499 +1 831-647-4201. A recently published study found that sea otters from three sites in Monterey Bay (Santa Cruz, Elkhorn Slough and Monterey) had mean POP levels 5-20 times higher than sea otters from locations in Alaska (Jessup et al. The urchins chew off the anchors that keep the kelp in place, causing them to die and float away, setting off a chain reaction that depletes the food supply for other marine animals causing their numbers to decline. In nature, all living things are in some way connected. 99826. CA. The well known paradigm follows the logic that urchins can eat and destroy entire kelp beds, leaving a low diversity/productivity urchin barren. Sea otter grooming at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Photo by Amy Barker) You may have heard of this story as one of the more striking examples of a keystone species at work, or you may know it better as one of the great conservation success stories. Come dive into the life of a Sea Otter and see what makes them so popular. One reason, is because they are adorable! In California's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary the sea otter is a keystone species in the kelp forest ecosystem. 12 Other Attractions within 0.3 miles. Thankfully, due to their high metabolism, sea otters constantly munch on crabs, clams and urchins. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are commonly thought to be the keystone species in kelp forest ecosystems along the west cost of North America, from the Aleutian Islands to California. Prior to 1911, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were largely extirpated from southeastern Alaska by the Pacific maritime fur trade industry.In 1965, sea otters were translocated from Amchitka Island (Aleutian Islands) to the outer coast of southeastern Alaska and by the early 1990's, small numbers of sea otters were documented at the mouth of Glacier Bay. Protecting keystone species, like sea otters, is a priority for conservationists. NPS/Jamie N. Womble. As a keystone species, observed increases in the local sea otter population unsurprisingly brought many ecosystem benefits. Keystone species. In Alaska, some places are not as accessible for viewing sea otters as in California, but for all three stocks in Alaska, there are places to view sea otters. Monterey Bay Sea Otters Dive Club. In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary among others, SeaOtters.com offers an unprecedented look into the extraordinary life and world of this endearing and threatened species. Here's our list of the top five places to spot Monterey County's favorite mascot. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. Their incredible surrogate program, in which stranded pups are cared for by the Aquarium’s resident sea otters, is essential for teaching pups “the skills they need to survive in the wild, like grooming and foraging.” The sea otter is a keystone species for its ecosystem. FSO partnered with Monterey Bay Kayaks to offer members discounts on kayak rentals to view sea otters in their natural habitat in Monterey Bay and the Elkhorn Slough. In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary among others, SeaOtters.com offers an unprecedented look into the extraordinary life and world of this endearing and threatened species. One of the results of Dr. Estes’ research was to designate sea otters as a “keystone species”. SANTA CRUZ, Calif.— Southern sea otter numbers have declined off the coast of California since peaking in 2016, but the average population count remains above 3,090 for the third consecutive year. Economic impact. One of the sea otter's favorite delicacies is the sea urchin who in turn loves kelp. Sea otters are a threatened species, and as well as being ridiculously adorable, are a keystone species that is very much needed in the marine ecosystem. Currently the population is estimated at just above 3,000 animals. California Sea Otter Game Refuge, Monterey: Address, Phone Number, California Sea Otter Game Refuge Reviews: 4.5/5. We also participated in “Otter Days” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium by engaging aquarium visitors and discussing sea otter issues and ways the general public can help ensure the recovery of the species. They’re also considered a keystone species because of their critical importance to the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem. This means that you get tell a lot about the health and well being of their ecosystem and habitat when looking at this specific species. Find out what effect we have on them and how you can help. Sea otters resting in kelp near Boulder Island in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. For more information, please contact Dr. Jamie Womble (jamie_womble@nps.gov). Today, in fact, the population hovers around 3,000 individuals, with a large segment of that population in Central California waters. In California's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary the sea otter is a keystone species in the kelp forest ecosystem. They face many challenges ranging from ocean pollution to shortage in food supply. Sea Otters: Adorable, Endangered, and A Keystone Species This cuddly creature is a sea otter, or Enhydra lutris, a well-known marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. How to tell them apart. Their incredible surrogate program, in which stranded pups are cared for by the Aquarium’s resident sea otters, is essential for teaching pups “the skills they need to survive in the wild, like grooming and foraging.” In California's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary the sea otter is a keystone species in the kelp forest ecosystem. Sea otters are a keystone species in their native coastal environments. Sea otters are one of the few animals that can eat sea urchins. 3:15. And at the core of individual ecosystems is a creature, or in some cases a plant, known as a keystone species. They prey on small herbivorous sea creatures like sea urchins, which can lead to more kelp and healthier seagrass in an area. 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. PO Box 140 A Sea otter bashing a clam on a rock anvil In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Wharton Media and Explore.org among others, SeaOtters.com offers an unprecedented look into the extraordinary life and world of this endearing and threatened species. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for large numbers of fish and shellfish. Moss Landing State Beach and the Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing are almost always a sure bet to see these cuddly cr… During 2002–2016 we reared 37 orphaned southern sea otter Enhydra lutris nereis pups, using captive sea otters as surrogate mothers, then released them into a degraded coastal estuary. You can see them close to shore almost any time of year! Sea Otters: A Keystone Species On The Brink _sea_otter_morro_bay_california.jpg (Photo By Mike Baird) Not only are sea otters some of the most fascinating members of the weasel family, they are also some of the smallest marine mammals, with adults weighing in at between thirty and one hundred pounds. Monterey Bay Sea Otters Dive Club. In particular, sea otters from Santa Cruz had high levels of both PCBs and DDT (see Offshore Question 7 for more information on PCBs in marine mammals). Otters are a keystone species. Open today: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. This is a shallow site that doesn’t see 50 ft. until a long way out where the boulders give way[…] Read more. Gradually, their numbers grew, sea urchin numbers declined, and the kelp began to grow again. The project will provide a foundation for understanding the colonization dynamics of sea otters and their influence on nearshore communities in Glacier Bay National Park. The sea otters were hunted almost to extinction. Author: Jill Weinlein Date of Trip: July 2016. A keystone species is one that is comparatively rare but has a strong influence on its environment. How to tell them apart. - Monterey Bay Kayaks. Private Tours, Kayaking & Canoeing, Stand-Up Paddleboarding. A keystone species greatly influences a particular habitat or ecosystem. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are commonly thought to be the keystone species in kelp forest ecosystems along the west cost of North America, from the Aleutian Islands to California. A recently published study found that sea otters from three sites in Monterey Bay (Santa Cruz, Elkhorn Slough and Monterey) had mean POP levels 5-20 times higher than sea otters from locations in Alaska (Jessup et al. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to see seals, sea lions and sea otters. The well known paradigm follows the logic that urchins can eat and destroy entire kelp … Latest Posts. A Member of the weasel family, the Sea otter can grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) in length, weighing up to 70 pounds (32 kg), with females being a little smaller than males. But when sea otters decline, urchin numbers explode and grab onto kelp like flies on honey. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) are a keystone species in the North Pacific Ocean that structure the nearshore ecosystem.Sea otters represent an … SeaOtters.com is dedicated to raising awareness about California’s threatened sea otters. by USFWS | Sep 25, 2018 | sea otters. For “key” species in marine sanctuaries (e.g., keystone species, foundation species, indicator species, and other focal species) measures of condition and health can be important in determining the likelihood that these species will persist or recover and continue to provide vital ecosystem functions and services. 693 Del Monte Ave, Monterey, CA 93940-2406. Author: Jill Weinlein Date of Trip: July 2016. Without the sea otters, in fact, the kelp ecosystem would struggle, probabaly even die. Since the protection of sea otters, populations have increased in areas like Big Sur and Monterey Bay, California, but they still remain an endangered species. Four species are commonly seen within the sanctuary. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for large numbers of fish and shellfish. Thanks to Sea Otters, Kelp Forests Absorb Vast Amounts of CO2 Sea Otters get a lot of attention when talking about the Monterey Bay. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, have been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Sea otters may be North America’s smallest marine mammal, but they have a huge appetite. This species operates much like a true key stone, which is the stone at the top of an arch that supports the other stones and keeps the whole arch from falling down. Some of the sea otter's preferred prey species, particularly abalone, clams, and crabs, are also food sources for humans. Sea Otters as a Keystone Species. California sea otter numbers take a slight dip from last year, but average count exceeds 3,090 for third consecutive year. Best nearby. After-work dive – Wharf 2 – Friday, January 8th at 6 pm. When present in healthy numbers, sea otters keep sea urchin populations in check. Otter 501 meanders through the tidal creeks near Yampah Island in Elkhorn Slough with a dozing pup on her chest. California Sea Otters are protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and California State law. On my bucket list – Kayak in Monterey Bay to observe wild sea otters up close. The official website of the Monterey Bay Sea Otters Dive Club! Elkhorn Slough was the first estuary in California recolonised by sea otters, a process that was greatly accelerated by the release in the slough of 37 otters that had been rescued and rehabilitated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the 2000s. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. This was called the International Fur Seal Treaty. •Sea otters are highly specialized marine mammals capable of living their entire lives without ever having to leave the ocean, have the densest fur of any mammal and are one of the few marine species to use tools. Sea otters are what is known as a keystone species. This desire started last year after a trip to the Monterey Aquarium. Sea otters protect kelp forests from damage by sea urchins. Sea otters!!! In Washington, sea otter spotting is difficult at best. Often, the extent of the keystone functions of a species aren't known until the species has been removed from its environment and the ecosystem changes. (File photo: Vern Fisher/Monterey County Herald, 7/23/04) Dungeness crabs are a holiday tradition every year on tables across Northern California. Their kelp beds recovered and the fish population came back too. The sea otter is an important predator of sea urchins, making it a keystone species for the kelp forests. The sea urchins in those areas were brought back into control. Sea otters eat 25% of their body weight each day. In 1911, a treaty was passed to protected the sea otters from hunting. ... California sea otters: ... Monterey Bay Aquarium 19,701 views. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. Sea Otters living along California’s Central Coast were, as recently as the 1930’s, believed to have been hunted to extinction. 2010). Lesser known – but wildly important to the health of the ocean – is the world’s entire population of southern (or California) sea otters. This desire started last year after a trip to the Monterey Aquarium. Sea Otters in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary face challenges every day to survive but we do not have to be one of those challenges. They have made a come back from the time when they were hunted to near extinction, but are still highly endangered. Sea otters are a "keystone species" which means that they can exert top-down pressure via predation on sea urchins, which are grazers upon kelp. Here are some tips to help you tell them apart. Within each community each species depends on one or more of the others for survival. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for large numbers of fish and shellfish. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Kelp also protect coastlines from damaging wave action. By the early 20th century when sea otters were nearly hunted out of existence for their fur, kelp beds disappeared and so did the marine life that depended on kelp. Our spirited sea otters came to us as rescued animals and are no longer able to survive in the wild. Years later, conservationists moved some remaining otters from Big Sur to Central California. Latest Posts. There is a $20,000 fine and up to a year in prison for anyone caught harassing or harming them so be respectful. Sea Otter Awarness Week was observed Monday, September 24, 2007 by reintroduction of a preservation bill for the otters by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel. This means that, when they are removed, the rest of the ecosystem collapses. Four species are commonly seen within the sanctuary. United States ; California (CA) Monterey County ; Monterey ; Monterey - Things to Do ; Monterey Bay Kayaks; Search. By eating sea urchins in kelp forests and crabs in estuaries, sea otters help keep these ecosystems in balance. Otters are a keystone species, which means their disappearance would have major impact. These top down influences on prey nearshore prey species can result in changes in community structure including maintaining a more diverse nearshore ecosystem. Once the kelp is gone many species disappear with it, thus providing evidence that the sea otter is a vital keystone species. The species is also protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, and has “fully protected” status under California state law. If it weren’t for sea otters, sea urchin populations would decimate the Bay’s kelp forests that provide a protective canopy for numerous species. 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