After being brought back from the brink of extinction, sea otters are once again in peril. An unprecedented number of sea otter deaths have occurred along the California coast in the last three years. But not everyone wants to support a thriving sea otter population. Otters are at the center of a bitter controversy regarding the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recent decision to eliminate the ‘No-Otter’ Zone from Southern California waters. For a fragile species threatened by pollution, infectious diseases, starvation, and competition with fishermen, this is a crucial time for the southern sea otter, as they struggle for survival.
California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. 35 years later and counting, their conservation status remains unchanged and their future remains uncertain. Despite decades of protection, the southern sea otter population’s growth has stalled and the species shows few signs of recovery.
A documentary about the highly toxic chemical produced by some blue green algae in fresh water ponds being washed down streams to the ocean. This toxin collects in crabs and shell fish, and is killing southern sea otters. Comments by Betty White.
On March 24, 1989, the single-hulled oil tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Within hours of the grounding, the 987-foot vessel spilled approximately 11 million gallons (257,000 barrels) of Prudhoe Bay Crude, making it the largest spill ever in U.S. waters until the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. The oil would eventually contaminate over 1,300 miles of coastline and 11,000 square miles of ocean, ultimately killing an estimated 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 orcas, and billions of salmon and herring eggs.