This is a delightful little documentary about sea otters in Canada. It has lovely footage of otters, the beautiful Canadian coastline, and my favorite line describing the bottom of the sea: “a fantastic bouillabaisse of life”.
The film also asks some hard questions about conservation vs. human use of land–bringing sea otters back to their former habitat has real impacts on restoring the ecosystems to the way they were pre-otter-extirpation. This is great from an ecological perspective, but can adversely impact industries that have come to rely on the proliferation of otter prey species. The video includes a decent bit of footage on the sea otter-fisheries conflict, and the frustration felt in the local community that is targeted at sea otters over the decline of certain prey species.
Dr. Jane Watson, who has studied the otters since their translocation, points out that although otters will limit a prey species population (without regard for human uses of said species), they will not drive a species extinct. Once a species becomes somewhat limited, it gets too difficult to hunt, and they will find an alternative. Species like abalone will adapt by living in rocky crevices, out of reach of otter paws. We see similar trends in California, and it is a constant reminder that the ecosystem evolved to function within itself for millions of years before we came along.
Although the film features Canadian otters, a lot of the management issues are similar to those we face in California.