Since awareness is a big part of this week, we’d be missing a major otter-tunity if we didn’t take a moment to talk with you about these incredible marine mammals and the threats they’re facing in the wild.
Southern sea otters once ranged from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest. In 1750, as many as 15,000 sea otters lived and foraged along the California coast (around five times our current population). But by the 1920s, they were thought to be extinct due to hunters killing them for their warm, luxurious pelts. In 1938, a small surviving population of about 50 otters was found off the isolated coast of Big Sur. From this tiny group of survivors, the species has slowly been making a recovery. They were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1977 and are still currently endangered.
Thanks to conservation efforts, California’s sea otter population has grown to about 3,000 animals. We — along with help from our partners — have contributed to the recovery of the sea otter population in California through rescue, rehabilitation and research. In fact, data shows that nearly 60 percent of otters in nearby Elkhorn Slough are graduates of our surrogacy program and their offspring. Even with these promising results, there’s more work to be done if we want otters around for years to come.
—From Monterey Bay Aquarium
The following photos are from Morro Bay, Ca. by Charmaine Coimbra.