Alaska Sea Otters Research Paper

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It's a sad and depressing scene in Alaska's Kachemak Bay region. While wildlife officials are used to seeing sick and dead sea otters, they're not used to seeing so many of them and in this condition. Unlike otters in the past, these otters looked surprisingly healthier.

200 Reports of Sick and Dead Otters Over a Couple of Months

As reported in KBBI, whatever is hitting the otters is hitting them fast and hard. Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge's Deputy Refuge Manager, Marc Webber describes these new sick otters in "depleted condition" and some show "a set of neurological symptoms."

Wildlife officials do know that the issue is widespread. These otters are turning up all over the region. They also know that the frequency isn't normal -- an alarming 200 reports of sick or dead otters over a couple of months. This pattern was really bad in the …show more content…

While otters are considered secure globally, the southwestern stock in Alaska is threatened. According to Alaska's Department of Fish and Game, "in southwest Alaska, sea otters have experienced a sharp population decline in the last 20 years," while the Southeast and Southcentral stocks have stabilized or increased. In an email exchange with Webber, he told me that the otters washing up were assumed to be non-threatened Southcentral northern sea otters because of the location of where they came ashore.

Otters have a unique history in Alaska. They bounced back from the fur trade, that began in the 1700s, that almost wiped them out. Today otters face other threats. Apart from disease epidemics, otters continue to be threatened by overharvest, interactions with fisheries (e.g. gear entanglements), oil spills and being prey to killer

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