Since then, sea otter populations have rebounded, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as a whole as Endangered. There's hope for the endangered southern sea otter population, according to a study out of Sonoma State University that predicts the population could more than triple from about 3,000 to … “Sea otters were associated with kelp forests only because the surviving southern sea otters off of Big Sur were in that habitat; if you go back in history, you’d be as likely to think of otters as salt marsh and seagrass animals, and indeed, there used to be more in San Francisco Bay than the entire southern population size now.”, The dogma, widely reinforced in both the scientific and popular media, is that sea otters do best in saltwater kelp forests,” said Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and a partner in the study. Now that they are rebounding, they’re surprising us by demonstrating how adaptable and cosmopolitan they really are.”, "This really changes our view of the ecological role of sea otters,” said Tinker. Click on title to download individual files attached to this item. There were about 474 stranded otters in 2016. Overall viewing conditions this year were very good, better than those encountered during the 2018 spring census (View Score = 3.0 this year compared to 2.4 last year, where 0=poor, 1=fair, … https://phys.org/news/2019-06-sea-otters-genetic-diversity-threatened.html The only estuary in California that is currently home to a distinct and self-sustaining population of sea otters is Elkhorn Slough at Moss Landing in Monterey Bay. 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. Thanks to conservation efforts, the population has since grown to more than 3,000, but their numbers are still far below their historic numbers and range. While conservation efforts have focused on protecting otters in these rocky coastal habitats, evidence shows that southern sea otters were once abundant in California estuaries, including in San Francisco Bay. Population Historically, sea otters numbered between 150,000 and 300,000 animals throughout the Pacific Rim. All of our Coverage From the 2019 Sea Otter Classic. The spring 2019 mainland sea otter count began on May 1 and was completed by July 9. Along with Sonoma State University, this study was a result of extensive collaboration between researchers and managers from the U.S. Hatfield, B.B., Yee, J.L., Kenner, M.C., and Tomoleoni, J.A., 2019, Annual California sea otter census - 2019 spring census summary: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9B2KNB3. “Sea otters were associated with kelp forests only because the surviving southern sea otters off of Big Sur were in that habitat; if you go back in history, you’d be as likely to think of otters as salt marsh and seagrass animals, and indeed, there used to be more in San Francisco Bay than the entire southern population size now.”, According to Hughes and his coauthors, current southern sea otter recovery plans have not included estuaries as target habitats. The surface canopies of kelp (predominantly, Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Census Summary Shapefile, Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Extra Limit Observations Shapefile, Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Range Extent Shapefile, Click on title to download individual files attached to this item, Annual California sea otter census - 2019 spring census summary.xml, Build Version: 2.169.0-62-g42d95ae-0 Overall viewing conditions this year were very good, better than those encountered during the 2018 spring census (View Score = 3.0 this year compared to 2.4 last year, where 0=poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=very good, and 4=excellent). Sea otters first became protected from the fur trade by the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911, after the population had decreased to about 2,000 as a result of unrestrained hunting for furs. December 9, 2019. The conservation and management of sea otters has benefited from a dedicated research effort over the past 60 years enabling this species to recover from a few thousand in the early 20th century to about 150,000 today. The surface canopies of kelp (predominantly Macrocystis pyrifera) were qualitatively noted by observers to be much less than the seasonal normal in the central portions of the range (from Monterey to Cayucos) and about normal near both ends of the range. “It would change the game in terms of how we look at sea otter conservation,” Hughes said. “Sea otters. A standardized method to survey sea otters was developed by WERC scientists and put into use in 1982 in California. Overall, southern sea otters have only recolonized about 13 percent of their historic range, according to the study. The spring 2019 mainland sea otter count began on May 1 and was completed by July 9. "They are not only keystone marine mammals of the outer coast, they are also important apex predators in estuarine habitats.". All of our Coverage From the 2019 Sea Otter Classic. One of the few wildlife species well-adapted to urban environments, otters are popular enough in the Garden City to be featured in David Attenborough’s Wild City documentary about Singapore in 2015, as well as in BBC Earth’s Wild Cities in 2019. Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. | Jan 29, 2019 | sea otters. May 20 - 23, 2021 Monterey, California, USA. & Burdin, A. Thus, there has been a painfully gradual increase in the population of southern sea otters and according to a 2017 counting, these otters are numbered around 3,186. Study finds California could triple southern sea otter population by recolonizing San Francisco Bay .