Monterey Bay Aquarium Study: Gaps in kelp cover may threaten the recovery of California sea otters

A new study by Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers indicates that gaps in the kelp canopy may be a contributing factor in the increase in southern sea otter mortality from white shark bites in California. Research suggests sea otters have reached carrying capacity throughout much of the center portion of their California range. Sea otter range […]

Numbers Encouraging, but Shark Bites Still Problematic for Sea Otter Recovery

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The recovery of southern sea otters appears to have taken an upturn, according to results from the annual California sea otter survey released by the U.S. Geological Survey today. Yet despite an overall increase in sea otter abundance, sharks have been “taking a bite” out of the portion of the population […]

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Increasing White Shark Bites Now Leading Cause of Sea Otter Mortality in California

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) are not considered prey for white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), but in California, sea otter carcasses have been increasingly observed with shark bite wounds over the past decade. USGS and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) researchers have published the data behind this trend in the journal Marine Mammal […]

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Species Ambassador Olive the Sea Otter Dies After White Shark Bite

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) confirmed that the sea otter known as “Olive” died from a shark bite. Olive was estimated around seven years old. Scientists last spotted Olive alive on Feb. 15, 2015, and then a private citizen reported discovering her dead on the beach March 22. After her rescue and rehabilitation […]

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 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, […]

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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.