It was a busy week here at The Otter Project–there’s a lot of movement in the oceans and some big projects impacting sea otters and their habitat will be coming down the pipes soon.
This Thursday I attended the Southern Sea Otter Alliance Meeting, hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SORAC and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, for a day full of sea otter research updates and some pretty exciting new ideas and questions. In addition to a sea otter status report from the fall count (details on this will be put out soon), scientists seemed excited about the prospects of looking at sea otters and climate change, how declines in otter prey species such as abalone might impact otter recovery, and how we can move forward on improving water quality that impacts otters.
With all this new information to think about, and a backlog of interesting otter related internet finds to post, I thought I’d offer up a list of some fun weekend reading to ease you into the internet rabbit hole otter-feet first.
1) The Endangered Species Coalition (of which The Otter Project is a member) is holding an Endangered Species Art Contest for kids. Young artists have until March to submit a drawing, and winners will be rolled out for Endangered Species Day in May. Check out their website for Endangered Species Art details.
2) Art not your thing? Want to have an endangered species adventure instead? The ESC is also hosting an endangered species themed adventure race The SunChaser Challenge–a bike/run/kayak adventure race. There are four locations throughout the country, with our nearest opportunity falling in Lake Tahoe, CA. The race is a team-based event in which racers will “rescue” animals from various checkpoints. Proceeds for the race go to support endangered species recovery. Check out the SunChaser Challenge website to find out how to participate.
3) On an unrelated note, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Notes Blog posted this incredibly inspiring story about the Royal Thai Navy’s work to save endangered sea turtles. This one struck a chord with me–not only because the baby sea turtles are so ridiculously adorable (I highly recommend you watch the video over and over again) but because the NAVY is taking care of a valued endangered species. In addition to the appeal of men in uniform hatching baby sea turtles, is the reminder that a country’s natural resources are worthy of military protection. Too bad OUR Navy is busy fighting for the right to harm sea otters instead of taking care of them–the Navy has expressed opposition to the Fish and Wildlife Services’ intention to end the no otter zone on the grounds that they don’t want to have to consult with the Service to ensure that otters in the Channel Islands aren’t impacted by Navy activities. In spite of the fact that there are no reported conflicts between otters and the Navy (which share San Nicolas Island), it appears that the Navy just doesn’t want to have to bother to consider sea otters. This is worthy of a whole separate post, so for now, enjoy the baby sea turtles, and the inspiration of the Royal Thai Navy’s work to protect them. Sigh…
4) Lastly, a sober reminder of the ever present risk of an oil spill: a vessel collision between a tanker and a towing vessel pulling a large barge collided in East Texas, spilling about 450,000 gallons of crude into the gulf. No sea otters in Texas of course, but a reminder of why we spent so much time and energy instituting vessel traffic lanes to avoid collision in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the heart of the sea otter range. Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that the voluntary lanes aren’t being followed. This means that otters remain at risk until compliance is ensured.Read about the Texas spill in the New York Times.
That should be enough otter inspired news to keep you busy for a weekend–get your kids drawing for the art contest, and please send us any sea otter drawings that emerge!