An invasive North Atlantic algae species has been found growing on California sea otters. Although the red algae doesn’t appear to be impacting sea otter health, scientists are concerned. For a species that devotes significant time grooming and actively maintaining their coat, the algae could add to their already strenuous daily energetic demands and potentially jeopardize the insulating and water repellant properties of their fur.  Scientists investigate in this new study, published in Marine Mammal Science.

Bentall, G. B., Rosen, B. H., Kunz, J. M., Miller, M. A., Saunders, G. W. and LaRoche, N. L. (2015), Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis). Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12275