Tag Archives: otter

Columbia River sea otters after 100y?

Interesting that the WA sea otters (a transient orca food source?) may be expanding their range from the NW coast of the Olympic Peninsula. Though the Salish Sea habitat is certainly appropriate for them, they apparently are rarely seen east of a line between Port Angeles and Race Rocks. Reference http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/whc/seadoc/pdfs/VanBlaricom01.pdf
clipped from www.dailyastorian.com
The reappearance of sea otters this month at the mouth of the Columbia River after an absence of perhaps as much as a century is heart-warming news in its own regard and also powerfully symbolic.
Russian hunters, eventually joined by Britons, Canadians and Americans, decimated a West Coast sea otter population once estimated at up to 300,000. Native people were drafted into the international trade, trading pelts for western goods, until only 1,000 to 2,000 otters remained when the slaughter finally was banned in 1911.
Even in the remote Aleutian Islands, sea otters have taken four steps forward and three steps back, with the population plunging from as many as 100,000 in the 1980s to around 6,000 by the year 2000. This may be because orcas shifted to preying on otters after environmental-related declines in their preferred menu items – seals and sea lions.
A self-sustaining population of otters has been reestablished along the northern Olympic Peninsula and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
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