An effort has been made to frame a debate around the issue of sea otters potentially causing the extinction of the white and black abalone, both listed as endangered on the ESA (sea otters are listed as threatened). It’s an interesting issue, but frankly, we’re skeptical. Not that we don’t love abalone–we do! It’s a California native, a sea otter delicacy, and on a recent tour of a local abalone farm, I happened to bond with one abalone in particular who suctioned to my hand. So the abalone love is strong in our corner.
It’s just that we haven’t seen any scientific evidence that sea otters would drive abalone to extinction. In fact, the research we’ve seen suggests that the species, all of which are natives of the same habitat, probably co-evolved and are suited to coexist–if we would just let them.