Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. They’re also considered a keystone species because of their critical importance to the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem. They eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. Without sea otters, these grazing animals can destroy kelp forests and consequently the wide diversity of animals that depend upon kelp habitat for survival. Additionally, kelp forests protect coastlines from storm surge and absorb vast amounts of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Sea otters are also considered a sentinel species because their health reflects that of California’s coastal waters.
- California sea otter numbers take a slight dip from last year, but average count exceeds 3,090 for third consecutive year
- Decisive Sea Otters Distinguish Differences by Touch
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Study: Gaps in kelp cover may threaten the recovery of California sea otters
- USGS and NASA Collaborate to Develop New High-Tech Flipper Tag to Study Social Networks of Sea Otters
- California Sea Otter Numbers Decline, Hurdles for Population Recovery Remain