Sea Otters to Swim Freely in Southern California

Written by on December 27, 2012 in Marine Life
Southern sea otter.

Southern sea otter. Photo credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

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:

Sea otters holding hands.

Sea otters holding hands. Photo credit: meckert75 via photopin cc

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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