USGS released the results of the Spring 2009 sea otter survey today, and the numbers are not ideal. Surveyors counted 2654 otters, which is a 3.8% drop from 2008’s count.
The really bad news is that this count caused the first decline in the three year average since 1990! The three year average is used to officially assess otter population in an effort to smooth out some of the inconsistencies that come from trying to count sea otters and correct for human error and variable conditions.
The Otter Project has suspected a decline for a while—we reported in our March 2009 Status Report that the indicators were pointing in that direction. Our assessment took into account four indicators, one of which was survey numbers.
This is bad news for otters, and bad news for the marine ecosystems that they support and depend on. I’ll post some more later about what this means, and what we can (and MUST) do about it!
You can read USGS’ press release and view some of their sea otter statistic graphs as well.