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Sea Otters: Indicators of Our Ocean's Health

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Date: September 21, 2009
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

During the October “From Shore to Sea” lectures, Greg Sanders, a senior biologist with Minerals Management Service, will share some of his favorite sea otter tales while offering information on how sea otters are an indicator of our ocean’s health.

Sanders will discuss sea otter biology, behavior, and ecology. What do sea otters really do with their time? How do we know what they do? What can sea otters tell us about our environment? In this presentation Sanders will address these questions and much more.

The southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. 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, over 2,500 sea otters live along the central coast of California.

Since 2003 Sanders has worked with Minerals Management Service as the Pacific Region’s marine mammal and seabird biologist. Between 1987 and 2003 he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the southern otter recovery and translocation program. Sanders graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1983 with a degree in aquatic biology.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 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?

Bechers Bay coastline on Santa Rosal Island

Although the park is within 60 miles of 18 million people, it is home to 175 miles of pristine undeveloped coastline.