Secondary Source: Chapter 23

Excerpt from Karl W. Kenyon, The Sea Otter in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. North American Fauna, Number 68. Washington, DC: Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, 1969: 135–136.

Intensive exploitation of the sea otter by Europeans began with the voyage of Vitus Bering in 1741 and continued unregulated for 170 years. Exploitation was halted and protection was given to the sea otter by international treaty in 1911.

The sea otter was then commercially extinct and nearly extinct as a species. The number of sea otters that were taken during the period of unregulated exploitation is not known because proper records were not kept. Most records are vague concerning where the skins came from, except that they came from the New World…

From data gathered during recent studies, some idea of the possible take may be postulated… Probably certain populations were wiped out during an early part of the exploitation period. Thus the yield over the entire period was less than it would have been if only the annual increment had been taken [number that could be hunted annually without threatening the overall population]. Reasoning on this basis, but appears that the probable take of sea otters between 1740 and 1911 was less than a million and more likely about half a million animals.

Last updated: November 16, 2017