Runoff from farmland near the Santa Maria River drains from ditches to the river.

Agricultural Runoff: Bad For Us, Bad For Otters

OTTER FACT: Scientists attribute up to 40 percent of southern sea otter mortality to infectious diseases alone, many of which are known to have anthropogenic (human) causes and land-sea linkages. The Central Coast of California is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United States. But all that productivity comes at a price […]

Raft of sea otters, Monterey Bay, CA

California Sea Otter Surveys: Every Otter Counts

Every spring and fall, scientists and volunteers fan out across 400 miles of California coastline to count sea otters. Utilizing shore-based and aerial observations, survey teams use binoculars and spotting scopes to count individual animals from accessible stretches of coastline and from fixed-wing aircraft in the remaining areas. Each survey records the total number of […]

Sea otter eating black abalone

Don’t Blame Sea Otters for Abalone Decline

Can’t we all just get along?  This question is one we might want to ask of sea otter conservation and advocacy groups and sea urchin and other shellfish advocacy groups. The latter have recently argued before Congress that the recovery of the Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act […]

Toxoplasma gondii

Is Sea Otter Brain Infection Responsible for Elevated White Shark Attacks?

Research has revealed that when rodents infected with Toxoplasma gondii (a parasitic protozoan that causes fatal brain infections in sea otters) smell cat urine, they’re aroused rather than frightened… so instead of running away, they get eaten.  Could T. gondii be a contributing factor in the increase in sea otter deaths attributed to white shark attacks? In more severe cases […]

Sea otter carrying western grebe

Did You Know Sea Otters Can Eat Birds?

Southern sea otters feed primarily on benthic invertebrates, such as sea urchins, abalone, crabs and snails, but they have been occasionally observed eating birds.  There are documented cases of cormorants, western grebes, surf scoters, common loons, and gulls being killed and/or eaten by otters in the Monterey Bay.  Most of the otters observed feeding on seabirds have been […]

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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.