Please Remember Sea Otters on Tax Day!

The sea otters that live off the coast of California are in trouble. As many or more adults die each year as there are young otters that survive to adulthood. The reasons for this are several and not totally understood, but quite a few are the result of things people do, or put into the […]

Sea Otter Mortality from White Sharks in California

Brian Hatfield (USGS), Michael Harris (CDFW), and Jack Ames (CDFW) also contributed to this piece. In 1968 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began a program to attempt to document and examine all beach-cast sea otter carcasses in California and to assign a cause of death to each case, when possible.  In general, […]

Harmful Algal Blooms and Marine Mammals

In every drop of seawater is a teeming world of microscopic organisms including bacteria, zooplankton, and phytoplankton. The phytoplankton, or algae, are the “grasses of the sea”, turning inorganic nutrients and carbon dioxide into organic material and oxygen. The vast majority of phytoplankton are beneficial; however, a small fraction of them can cause problems by […]

It All Flows Downhill

From the time we were little we have heard that water flows downhill……and indeed that’s true. Water and all the “stuff” that’s in it, including chemicals, hormones, bacteria and viruses, parasite eggs (to say nothing of the “stuff” the parasite eggs are in), particulates and plastics, cigarette butts, all kinds of things. Creeks flow into […]

Food Choices and Location Influence California Sea Otter Exposure to Disease

Gloria Maender also contributed to this piece. Sea otters living along the central California coast risk higher exposure to disease-causing parasites as a consequence of the food they eat and where they feed. Sea otters that eat small marine snails are at a higher risk of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, a potentially deadly protozoal pathogen, […]

What are Sea Otter Necropsies and Why are They Needed?

Timelapse sea otter necropsy (post-mortem examination) of adult female and pup conducted at California Department of Fish and Game. Live Southern sea otters are never killed for the sole purpose of a necropsy (post-mortem examination).  The sea otters are either found dead or have been euthanized due to severe injury or disease that is considered […]

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Helping to Save Sea Otters and How They Are Helping to Save Us

Liz VanWormer also contributed to this piece. Living along the California coast sparks our interest in the connection between land and sea. As we walk along the beaches and surf the waves, we have the opportunity to appreciate the diverse organisms sharing these environments. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) are some of our most charismatic marine neighbors. They […]

Resource Benefits and Conflicts of Sharing a Coast with Sea Otters

Check with the next sea otter you see bashing a shell on its chest. Chances are good that he’s going after a meal we humans enjoy as well. Abalone, clams, crabs—they all can make the otter menu. Though we might marvel at the ingenuity it takes to find 25 percent of their bodyweight in food […]

The Legacy of the Fur Trade

Just a few hundred years ago, thousands of sea otters peppered the coast of California, dwarfing the current population of less than 3000 animals. A host of human impacts are to blame for keeping otters near the edge of extinction today—loss of habitat, competition for food, diseases carried by our pets and oils spills, to […]

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Sea Otter Blood Processing

In order to learn more about the overall health of the Southern sea otter population, researchers around the country need to analyze a variety of samples.  These samples are not easily accessible to those away from the coast of California.  A collaborative effort between the different institutions and scientists help make this possible.  During Southern […]

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About is dedicated to raising awareness about California's threatened sea otters and the role research plays in the species recovery and conservation. It's a collaboration of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Davis, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, among others. is also home of the world's first HD live stream of southern sea otters in the wild.