After 25 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that their sea otter trans-location program had failed. Now, southern sea otters will be allowed to roam the Southern California coastline–an area that has been otter-free since the late 1980s.
The notice published last week said: “As a result, it allows sea otters to expand their range naturally into Southern California.”
Originally, officials relocated 140 sea otters from Monterey Bay to San Nicolas Island as a way of establishing a “reserve colony” in case the something happened to the original population. Later, the government made a deal with fishermen that declared waters south of Point Conception to be off limits to sea otters. Any otters that were found in beyond the limits were removed. Some continued to swim back and others were found dead after being relocated.
Now, the agreement will be terminated. Environmentalists are thrilled that otters can expand to their natural range, but some fishers and divers are disappointed that the urchin-eating creatures will be back in their waters.
To learn more:
- Check out this article from the Los Angeles Times: U.S. will let otters roam along Southern California coastline
- Read the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement about the translocation of southern sea otters
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.