Rechsteiner fondly remembers once seeing 50 male otters getting blown into a small cove during a winter storm on the central coast. On the other hand, the disturbance they create may contribute to releasing carbon buried in the sediment into the atmosphere. “Some of them are resting, others are grooming, shaking their fur, repositioning.”, Pinel has made sea otter viewing a main focus of the ecotourism tours he has been leading for the last 20 years in the region. When otters move in, they devour the urchins and kelp forests flourish as a result. Daily Hive is a Canadian-born online news source, established in 2008, that creates compelling, hyperlocal content. They were so young that they didn’t know how to eat by themselves or groom themselves yet. River otters are very messy eaters—but they really appear to … “I don’t have the same feelings toward them as my grandma.”, West Coast Expeditions offers a variety of sea kayaking tours from Spring Island – including a five-day sea otter kayaking expedition. 29 photos of Vancouver under a fresh blanket of snow When otters are not present, sea urchins, abalone, clams, crabs, geoducks and other invertebrates increase in abundance, opening up opportunities for First Nations and commercial fishers to harvest them. Instead they rely on their dense fur coat for insulation against the cold. ’s engineering impacts are going to be on seagrass beds,” says Margot Hessing-Lewis. The otters’ voracious appetite has profound implications for the local ecosystems. Because urchins are very nutritious, it helps the birds make it through the winter. From shore, shiny black heads can be seen at the surface of the water. “All the rocks made slightly different sounds, there were so many otters,”, says. Located in beautiful Port Alice, B.C. Martone noted that although tourists value the charismatic otters, the wildlife tour operators she interviewed did not perceive sea otters as a strong factor influencing their business. 4 Days / 3 Nights. The ecological changes the otters trigger have an economic cost. Home to rescued sea otters. Since then, otters have made a remarkable comeback. West Coast Expeditions is one of the only ecotourism businesses on Vancouver Island which is co-owned by First Nations, providing an opportunity for Aboriginal communities to benefit from sea-otter related tourism. The river otter is often confused with the sea otter, so we have a chart below that … Where privacy and recreation come together to create Personalized Adventures! In an environment where otters are absent, sea urchins thrive and eradicate kelp beds. “With sea otters on our doorstep, it is an opportunity to discuss them in the context of how a place has been changing through time and what the relationships are with humans.”. On the other hand, the disturbance they create may contribute to releasing carbon buried in the sediment into the atmosphere. Hunted to extirpation by fur traders, sea otters were absent in British Columbia by the 1930s. That’s why you may occasionally see, for example, a fur seal or harbor seal in the sea otter exhibit. For example, if there were more sea otters in an area, this would translate into a 7.4 percent increase in tourists choosing to go on a wildlife tour with a high probability of seeing a sea otter. “I don’t mind the sea otters,” says the 20-year old. From the moment she was discovered in 2004, orphaned and alone in the water by a boater near Sitka, Alaska, Tanu captured the hearts of everyone who met her. Meet the Vancouver Aquarium's rescued sea otter pup, Hardy, who is literally too cute for you to handle. The otters were feeding over kelp beds where they were pulling up red turban snails and smashing them in half on rocks that they used as tools. It’s not just the kids that are enjoying Metro Vancouver’s fresh sheet of snow. “The jury is still out as what the sea. In celebration of Sea Otter Awareness Week and our Spotlight on Sea Otters on now at the Vancouver Aquarium, we would like to introduce the sea otters at the Aquarium. For example, when otters dig seagrass beds to find clams and leave foraging holes behind, they may be oxygenating the soil and helping the seagrass grow faster. During his tours, Pinel promotes cultural interactions between Kyuquot-Checleset First Nations members and tourists through a traditional salmon feast around an open fire. You will have much better chances of seeing them on a trip from Tofino, or perhaps from Port Hardy with Nakwakto Rapids Tours. A … The marine mammal trainers managed to capture some footage of the six sea otters playing in the snow, and well… you should just watch for yourself. It is with great sadness that we share the news that Tanu, the Vancouver Aquarium’s eldest rescued sea otter, passed on Tuesday surrounded by her animal care and her veterinary team. Vancouver Aquarium Rescues 'Orphaned' Otter Pup, Found 'Hypothermic and Hypoglycemic' The little pup, named Joey, was found near Kyuquot and flown to Vancouver for care Vancouver Island Range The sea otter is distributed exclusively on the west coast of the island, ranging from Cape Scott in the north, to Barkley Sound in the south (though southward expansion is likely occurring). They could easily be mistaken for bobbing kelp floats, but binoculars reveal a raft of about 120 sea otters. The island, which boasts an intact old-growth rainforest with giant Sitka spruce trees and Western redcedar trees that are over 1,000 years, is also in the heart of sea otter country. In comparison, the equivalent figure for a high chance of seeing whales was $302. The long-term influence of these ecology wizards on the landscape is still not entirely understood. Meet the four, charming, inspiring sea otters and learn about their rescue stories: Elfin: One of the two male sea otters, Elfin was found alone in the waters near Juneau, Alaska by fishermen in 2001. For example, Rechsteiner found that in areas where otters had been established the longest—like the Kyuquot region—there were more oystercatchers than in areas where otters had arrived recently. The reintroduction to B.C. From land or from a kayak, visitors can enjoy the various and sometimes comical behaviours sea otters engage in. Their numbers and range have expanded rapidly, and there are now nearly 7,000 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of B.C.Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in the late 1800s. They bring back their catch to the surface, often lying on their back with food on the chest, while they eat and handle prey. There are about 5000 Sea otters in British Columbia, mostly seen in sea kelp beds from a boat. Rechsteiner fondly remembers once seeing 50 male otters getting blown into a small cove during a winter storm on the central coast. A study led by marine ecologist Russell Markel found that kelp forests were nearly 20 times larger on the west coast of Vancouver Island after otters eliminated red sea urchins. Sea otter populations in Alaska are now quite healthy. “The best-known effect of sea otters is an increase in kelp,” says Jane Watson, a marine ecologist at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. Start typing to see results or hit ESC to close. The Vancouver Aquarium is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. “Sea otters are a huge drivers of change,” says Erin Rechsteiner, a research ecologist at the Hakai Institute and a PhD student at the University of Victoria’s Applied Conservation Science Lab. From his kayak, Sabbas watches the sea otter raft, along with a group of tourists in awe, just a few minutes away from base camp. Three rescued sea otter pups from the Vancouver Aquarium – Rialto, Mak and Kunik – were introduced for the first time this week to the Aquarium’s adult otter Tanu. The composition of social groups within the Vancouver Aquarium’s sea otter population changes frequently and for many reasons, among them enrichment, animal welfare, management ─ and healthcare. Because of their higher metabolic rate, sea otters must eat up to a quarter of their weight daily to meet their energy requirements. Visitors at the Aquarium can get to know the six rescued animals and their stories during daily sea otter talks. Vancouver Aquarium: two sea otters float around, napping, holding hands. Experience Adventure. The last otters seen in B.C. When Pinel leads land-based and kayak tours off Spring Island, he points to the multiple interactions between the sea otters and the local ecosystem, as tourists spot a flock of oystercatchers on a small rock or take notice of the healthy seagrass beds in the intertidal zone. Otters’ impacts on coastal ecosystems can be far-reaching. At low tide, Spring Island’s shoreline becomes alive with colours and movement. When Pinel leads land-based and kayak tours off Spring Island, he points to the multiple interactions between the sea otters and the local ecosystem, as tourists spot a flock of oystercatchers on a small rock or take notice of the healthy seagrass beds in the intertidal zone. “The sea otters came and destroyed everything,” Hansen says. One night in early July, a woman in the Vancouver Island village of Kyuquot heard the cries of an animal in distress through the darkness from the … For example, if there were more sea otters in an area, this would translate into a 7.4 percent increase in tourists choosing to go on a wildlife tour with a high probability of seeing a sea otter. for decades were reportedly shot off the west coast of Vancouver Island between 1929 and 1930. By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You may see them in spots like Esquimalt Harbour and Lagoon, Telegraph Cove, Tofino and Ucluelet harbours, Jack Point in … He also trains younger members of the community to become guides. Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in the late 1800s. The sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium were rescued when they were just babies. Nowhere in Canada can one view larger populations of Sea Otters foraging in enormous kelp forests. When they first arrive in an area, they eat all the selfish they can: sea urchins first, but also abalone, mussels, clams, crabs and snails. If these dates don't work for you, consider our 4-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour or 6-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour trip dates! On land, visitors may also notice beach-cast kelp, another potential sea otter effect. "It's a very complex issue and we'll see how it unfolds," she said. You also agree to receive email updates on new posts and offers. The otters were feeding over kelp beds where they were pulling up red turban snails and smashing them in half on rocks that they used as tools. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Biologists describe sea otters as a keystone species, meaning that as they come back, they are transforming the environment around them. Follow us on social media and keep up-to-date with the geographic and travel quarterly magazine of British Columbia. Virtually the entire sea otter range is contained within the boundaries of Olympic National Park and, for the most part, can only be accessed by hiking from one to several miles. Martone showed that the potential revenue to tourism operators would change by several million dollars based on changes in sea otter abundance. It’s not just the kids that are enjoying Metro Vancouver’s fresh sheet of snow. In Alaska, some places are not as accessible for viewing sea otters as in California, but for all three stocks in Alaska, there are places to view sea otters. 29 photos of Vancouver under a fresh blanket of snow, Canucks trade draft pick to Rangers for goaltender Marek Mazanec, Justin Trudeau just visited Burnaby's La Forêt Bakery (PHOTOS). Sea otters are not related to seals or sea lions, but are rather a member of the mink family. This morning, for example. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 otters from Alaska were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. “People can connect the relevance of the sea otter story with some elements of being a human on our own and the various struggles for existence for staying warm, dry and feeding ourselves,” Pinel notes. at Hakai Institute who studies interactions between sea otters and the linkages between nearshore habitats such as seagrass beds and kelp forests. The sea otter is the heaviest in the Mustelidae family including 13 otters, among them the giant otter. Also keep in mind that some animals may simply not get along well enough to spend time together without supervision. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 otters from Alaska were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. A recent survey of Vancouver Island visitors find that the willingness to pay for a wildlife tour was $228 per visitor if there was a high chance of seeing otters. Sea urchins are normally too large and too deep for the harlequin ducks to get themselves, but when the sea otters crack open the urchins at the surface, the ducks enjoy the urchin scraps in the otters’ wake. The return of sea otters seems to benefit a range of animals, small and big. Rechsteiner suspects that as otters pull bunches of large mussels off the rocks, this creates bare patches where juvenile invertebrates can settle and grow, which in turn feeds the oystercatchers who cannot eat the larger mussels. Now they’re thriving in their Aquarium habitat. We were treated to a family of six river otters in the bay just off Second Beach in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. River Otters on Vancouver Island The North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) can be found in many places around Vancouver Island. Earlier today, the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal trainers held a “snow enrichment session” with their six rescued sea otters: Tanu, Katmai, Mak, Kunik, Rialto, and Hardy. In Washington, sea otter spotting is difficult at best. Hilda Hansen, a 94-year-old Kyuquot-Checleset First Nations elder, remembers the time before sea otters were reintroduced to the region, when she could just go to the beach with a bucket and pick up clams every day. When sea otters return, their insatiable appetite creates a conflict with the people who have an economic and cultural interest in shellfish. You will be sent an opt-in email to confirm that you would like to receive emails from us. 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