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Recovery of Sea Otter Populations in Southern California Waters

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Date: November 12, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

During the November “From Shore to Sea” lectures, Greg Sanders, a senior biologist with Minerals Management Service, will offer a history of sea otters along the California coast including their near extinction, current threats, and recovery efforts.

The southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Sanders’ presentation will provide updated information about the return of southern sea otters to portions of their historic range in southern California waters. He will also discuss the expansion of the sea otter population southward and its effect on people and marine life.

Sea otters historically were found across the north Pacific, from the northern islands of Japan to Baja California. A lucrative fur trade began in the 18th century, reducing the California sea otter population from approximately 16,000 sea otters to as few as 50 individuals by 1911.  Currently, approximately 2,700 sea otters live along the central coast of California.

Sanders graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1983 with a degree in aquatic biology. In 1987, he was hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help implement the southern otter recovery and translocation program. After nearly two decades of working with sea otter issues, Sanders joined the Minerals Management Service in 2003, as the Pacific Region’s marine mammal and seabird biologist.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 11, 2008, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, November 12, 2008, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Island deer mouse

The endemic island deer mouse is the only native terrestrial mammal common to all the Channel Islands and is larger than mainland deer mice. Densities of deer mice on the islands can be greater than anywhere else in the world. This makes you happy if you're an owl, but not if you're a camper.