The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to see seals, sea lions and sea otters. Club dive – Otter Cove – Friday, January 23rd at 8 am ... Butterfly House is located at the intersection of Scenic Road and Stewart Way in Carmel-by- the-Sea.There is a large expensive[…] Read more. This is a shallow site that doesn’t see 50 ft. until a long way out where the boulders give way[…] Read more. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Some of the sea otter's preferred prey species, particularly abalone, clams, and crabs, are also food sources for humans. In the Monterey Bay, the sea otter lives in kelp forest and estuary habitats. One reason, is because they are adorable! 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. The sea urchins in those areas were brought back into control. Sea otter grooming at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Photo by Amy Barker) You may have heard of this story as one of the more striking examples of a keystone species at work, or you may know it better as one of the great conservation success stories. One of the sea otter's favorite delicacies is the sea urchin who in turn loves kelp. Club dive – Otter Cove – Friday, January 23rd at 8 am. Sea otters are a "keystone species" which means that they can exert top-down pressure via predation on sea urchins, which are grazers upon kelp. Though there are many other interactions between sea otters and their prey species, the best example of this effect is the sea urchin. Protecting keystone species, like sea otters, is a priority for conservationists. Otters are a keystone species. They prey on small herbivorous sea creatures like sea urchins, which can lead to more kelp and healthier seagrass in an area. Most of our animals are occasionally off exhibit, acting as companions or mentors to other stranded otters as part of our Sea Otter Program. The sea otter is an important part of both of these habitats — It’s a keystone species, which means that the health of sea otters is a good indication of the health of other species and ecosystems nearby. How to tell them apart. A Member of the weasel family, the Sea otter can grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) in length, weighing up to 70 pounds (32 kg), with females being a little smaller than males. Private Tours, Kayaking & Canoeing, Stand-Up Paddleboarding. (File photo: Vern Fisher/Monterey County Herald, 7/23/04) Dungeness crabs are a holiday tradition every year on tables across Northern California. Currently the population is estimated at just above 3,000 animals. Best nearby. Watch this great short film to understand more about keystone species: - Monterey Bay Kayaks. But a colony of about fifty were discovered in Big Sur and, from these animals, otters have made a remarkable comeback in California, particularly, in Monterey Bay. Sea otters are one of the few animals that can eat sea urchins. In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Wharton Media and Explore.org among others, SeaOtters.com offers an unprecedented look into the extraordinary life and world of this endearing and threatened species. Today, in fact, the population hovers around 3,000 individuals, with a large segment of that population in Central California waters. WORLD ANIMAL FOUNDATION © All Rights Reserved, WorldAnimal.Foundation  |  WorldAnimalFoundation.com  |  Adopt An Animal. When the otters disappeared, the sea urchin population grew very quickly. By the early 20th century when sea otters were nearly hunted out of existence for their fur, kelp beds disappeared and so did the marine life that depended on kelp. 3:15. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for large numbers of fish and shellfish. NPS/Jamie N. Womble. Sea Otters as a Keystone Species. A recently published study found that sea otters from three sites in Monterey Bay (Santa Cruz, Elkhorn Slough and Monterey) had mean POP levels 5-20 times higher than sea otters from locations in Alaska (Jessup et al. Sea otters may be North America’s smallest marine mammal, but they have a huge appetite. Sea otters are what is known as a keystone species. As the underwater forests grew, other species reappeared. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to see seals, sea lions and sea otters. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. Prior to 1911, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were largely extirpated from southeastern Alaska by the Pacific maritime fur trade industry.In 1965, sea otters were translocated from Amchitka Island (Aleutian Islands) to the outer coast of southeastern Alaska and by the early 1990's, small numbers of sea otters were documented at the mouth of Glacier Bay. So when sea otters eat constantly they're a keystone species supporting an entire ecosystem, but when I do it I’m “hogging all the mashed potatoes” and “missing the true spirit of Thanksgiving.” •Sea otters are highly specialized marine mammals capable of living their entire lives without ever having to leave the ocean, have the densest fur of any mammal and are one of the few marine species to use tools. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are commonly thought to be the keystone species in kelp forest ecosystems along the west cost of North America, from the Aleutian Islands to California. In 1911, a treaty was passed to protected the sea otters from hunting. In collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary among others, SeaOtters.com offers an unprecedented look into the extraordinary life and world of this endearing and threatened species. Once the kelp is gone many species disappear with it, thus providing evidence that the sea otter is a vital keystone species. Keystone species. Monterey Bay and Elkhorn Slough are 2 areas with some of the highest concentrations of the California Southern Sea Otter (one of 3 subspecies). It belongs to the order Carnivora and the family Mustelidae. How to tell them apart. One of the results of Dr. Estes’ research was to designate sea otters as a “keystone species”. These top down influences on prey nearshore prey species can result in changes in community structure including maintaining a more diverse nearshore ecosystem. Here's our list of the top five places to spot Monterey County's favorite mascot. Review Highlights … FSO partnered with Monterey Bay Kayaks to offer members discounts on kayak rentals to view sea otters in their natural habitat in Monterey Bay and the Elkhorn Slough. Sea otters eat 25% of their body weight each day. This means that you get tell a lot about the health and well being of their ecosystem and habitat when looking at this specific species. Did you know that sea otters are a keystone species? This article is about the Southern Sea otter as distinct from its Northern relative. This means that, when they are removed, the rest of the ecosystem collapses. The species is also protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, and has “fully protected” status under California state law. Rather than wait until it may be too late for the system's health and survival, scientists make every effort to keep an ecosystem working as nature had intended. 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