1. Why Are Sea Otters Important? Nonetheless, the managers of this estuary have recently reintroduced sea otters that have resulted in the sudden increase in the seagrass beds. Sea otter use a variety of strategies for finding their food. Her survey found the most important factor in how indigenous communities felt about the sea otter’s recovery was the extent to which they felt agency or inclusion in decision-making. The endemic species of Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli) is also present in They sleep this way, often gathered in groups. In coastal areas where sea otters regularly consume sea urchins, kelp forests have a greater chance to take hold and endure, and act as an undersea forest habitat for other marine animals. Sea otters generally forage in nearshore waters shallower than 60 feet (18 m) but have been recorded diving to 300 feet (90 m) or more. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. When otters are not around, the urchin population can get too big. In the kelp forest, it eats sea urchins and other animals that graze on giant kelp. Hughes said one of the reasons otter habitat has remained fragmented and why sea otters have not been able to migrate north and reestablish residency in San Francisco Bay is the presence of great white sharks near the Golden Gate. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are not like other marine mammals. By controlling the number of crabs, sea otters helped sea slugs and other tiny marine grazers flourish. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. As urchin density decreases from sea otter predation, so does the grazing pressure on kelp and as a result kelp forests flourish in the presence of sea otters. Otter enrichment is important because it keeps them active and learning while playing all day. There are 13 species of otter in the world and they are all in the Red List of Threatened Species. Otters are crucial in keeping kelp forests healthy and thriving. Without these keystone species, ecosystems could fail or drastically change. The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal living near the shores of the North Pacific, from northern Japan, the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka east across the Aleutian Islands and along the North American coast to Mexico.It has the thickest fur in the animal kingdom. They eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. Want to watch cute sea otters romp, wrestle and play every day of the year? Thus, to survive the cold temperatures and maintain warmth, the sea otters feed on food amounting to an average of 25% of their body weight every day. The otters need different things to do like playing in ice baths or figuring out how to use new toys. Sea otters By: Rhiannon Martin, Mackenzie Gatton, and Dallas Haase 2. Thus, the reduction in the numbers of the sea urchins, caused by the presence of sea otters, prevents the decimation of the kelp forests. Sea otters are very important to the environment, and without them the food chain would collapse. The specific role of the sea otters in the eco-system is as follows; 1. More kelp forests result in fewer urchin barrens, as well as an increase in the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and release oxygen back into the air. Additionally, kelp forests protect coastlines from storm surge and absorb vast amounts of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Fourthly, sea otters are also threatened by predators that live underwater like orcas, sea lions, and bald eagles. All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2021 worldatlas.com. And, even if you live far from the Pacific Ocean, that matters to you because kelp forests are one of the ocean’s great carbon sinks; they help mitigate the effects of climate change. When population control of prey by their predators then affects the next trophic level, the kelp, it is referred to as a “trophic cascade.” Kelp is vitally important to the ecosystem: they can slow coastal erosion and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. With the reduced crabs in the meadows, the population of the sea slugs increase and feed on the algae seen growing on the leaves of the seagrass. Gidget was part of the Aquarium’s sea otter exhibit and surrogacy program and also provided a genetic sample that researchers used to create the first complete southern sea otter genome. Overall, southern sea otters have only recolonized about 13 percent of their historic range, according to the study. Sea otters aren’t just cute – these fuzzy marine mammals also perform an important role protecting the kelp forests which maintain our climate and prevent storm damage. 2. Fortunately, sea otters feed on sea urchins resulting in the preservation of the kelp forests. Sea otters, in addition to being tender animals, are extremely important for the care of marine forests and for increasing biodiversity. The recovery of the sea otter is considered an important success in marine conservation, although populations in the Aleutian Islands and California have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. Some researchers hypothesize that sea otters and their voracious appetites have played an important role in shaping the natural history of the California coastline and the Pacific Rim. The scientists studied the impact of otters on kelp forests and marine life off the Canadian coast in British Columbia. They have a pouch in their arm to store items like food and perhaps their favorite rock. For more information on these species click hereAll are declining in number except the North American river otter which is regarded as stable. Other things such as shootings and getting caught in fishing traps and nets promote a major threat to these sea otters. Sea otters can eat 25 to 30 percent of their body weight in one day, which would be equivalent to a 175-pound human eating 45 pounds of food in one day. Sea otters are meticulously clean. This challenge has affected even large estuaries such as the Elkhorn Slough Estuary located on Monterey Bay in Central California, US. Otters are part of the Mustelidae family, which is a family of … By repeatedly foraging these contaminated prey, the otters put themselves at risk of harmful diseases. What Is The Role Of Vultures In The Ecosystem And Wildlife Conservation? Sea otters have strong effects on prey communities and sea otter numbers and behavior reflect habitat conditions; because of these features, sea otters are particularly useful indicators of ecosystem status. A keystone species is one that exerts a large, stabilizing influence throughout an ecological community. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. The ‘’Exxon Valdez’ oil disaster that occurred in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, proved that the single greatest threat to the otter today is an oil spill. Kelp forests are large marine environments where tall algae called kelp is the dominant producer. They are not at the top of the food web, however, and are eaten by orcas, great white sharks and other large predators. The grazers in turn kept the eelgrass blades clean and healthy. However, even this is questionable as tens of thousands are killed LEGALLY each year by trapping. Sea otters aren’t just cute – these fuzzy marine mammals also perform an important role protecting the kelp forests which maintain our climate and prevent storm damage. They provide crucial habitat and food for other marine organisms and also help to contain coastal erosion. It is your job to research why sea otters are so important to their ecosystem and associated food web. Sea otters have a profound impact on the coastal habitats which is why they are rightly known as keystone species. Case study: Sea Otters →Crabs → Sea Slugs → Micro Algae → Eelgrass A new trophic cascade involving sea otters was recently discovered in a Central California estuary. In the kelp forest, it eats sea urchins and other animals that graze on giant kelp. California Condor Facts: Animals Of North America, The Causes And Effects Of Ocean Pollution. Without sea otters, sea urchins can overpopulate the sea floor and devour the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other marine animals. We don’t want to be inadvertently killing them with our cars. For these reasons, the sea otter remains classified as an endangered species. In some areas, usually where there are few predators, sea otters will rest on land, but they spend most of their time at the water’s surface floating on their backs. In particular, they … “Sea otters exhibit strong top-down control of grazers, particularly sea urchins, and thus indirectly increase kelp population spatial occupancy and productivity,” Martone and her colleagues wrote in a summary of their research they presented Tuesday.. When present in healthy numbers, sea otters keep sea urchin populations in check. Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. Sea otters reside in the underwater which has extremely cold temperatures. Sea otters play an important role in their ecosystem by controlling the numbers of sea urchins. And, even if you live far from the Pacific Ocean, that matters to you because kelp forests are one of the ocean’s great carbon sinks; they help mitigate the effects of climate change. They’re also considered a keystone species because of their critical importance to the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem. 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. Sea otters often float at the water's surface, lying on their backs in a posture of serene repose. People affect sea otter populations through direct shootings and trapping sea otters in fishing nets. Sea otters are ‘’keystone species” because of their critical role in maintaining the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystems. Otters are crucial in keeping kelp forests healthy and thriving. They have a pouch in their arm to store items like food and perhaps their favorite rock. Sea otters are an important keystone species in the marine system. The males are polygynous as they may take up multiple female partners. When they discovered Sea otters off California in the thirties it was like they discovered dinosaurs, because they thought they were extinct. This knowledge can also be important for rehabilitation programs, she said. Their charming features are unparalleled, from their expressions to their use of tools. Yet some of these same physiological characteristics, such as exceptionally high daily calorie demands, also make them critically important to our coastal ecosystem health. For example, Strobel said it’s important to know about behavior as sea otter populations expand to other areas in California, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. noaasanctuaries: Sea otters are what’s known as a keystone species: their foraging and feeding behaviors have a major effect on the health of their ecosystem. This turn can have devastating effects on marine life diversity. For example, they transfer marine-derived nitrogen to the terrestrial ecosystem. The research is investigating the evolution of sea otters and the history of the population which crashed a century ago due to the fur trade. Let’s take a look at the Eurasian … Sea otters are an iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of marine life found along California’s coastline. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. Sea otters are vital to kelp forest ecosystems because they control communities of sea urchins, which are herbivorous invertebrates that if left unmonitored overgraze and potentially destroy the kelp forest (Allegra, Rath and Gunderson, 2012). 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. Although capable of walking on land, otters may spend their whole lives in water. The high metabolism comes from the food eaten by the sea otters. Sea otters are the most recently evolved marine mammals and have a number of physiological characteristics that make them an easy target for disturbance by humans. Studies show that the presence of otters increased the carbon storage of kelp forests from 4.4 to 8.7 megatons. Thirdly, sea otters expose themselves to diseases and pollutants through their feeding habits. Sea otters were considered especially economically important to humans during the fur trade from 1700s up to 1911 (date of the International Fur Seal Treaty signed). We must protect sea otters from fishermen or people who consider otters to be an enemy because they compete with them for their food. It was hard narrowing everything people needed to know about sea otters to three main topics, but I needed to get the word out that sea otters are endangered. If you come across a sea otter you think is sick, injured or abandoned, please give it space and call The Marine Mammal Center’s stranding hotline at (415) 289-7325. These filter feeders indiscriminately sieve particles out of the water resulting in them accumulating high concentrations of pollutants and disease pathogens. Because otters are such good predators, the sea slugs that are typically eaten by crabs have the chance to do their job in removing excess algae from seagrass. Since then, the sea otter has become an important poster species for the ecology movement: a lovable, cuddly sea mammal that was saved from extinction thanks to … Some predators like the great white shark may kill the otters but not feed on them. But Estes didn’t understand the real meaning of what he’d seen until a meeting with veteran ecologist Bob Paine. Tune into our LIVE Sea Otter Cam for your daily dose of sea otter cuteness. Since they like to eat some of the same foods, like sea urchins, lobsters and crabs, they are near those same areas where fishermen are. This is an area of the sea without kelp forest cover. Sea otter pups are born in water and float like corks, but they cannot swim for several weeks. Did you know sea otters have built in pouches of loose skin under their forearms to stash extra prey when diving? But the animals have not naturally repopulated to Oregon in the time since. Since they have to consume at least 25% of their body weight each day to stay alive, sea otters prey on filter feeders such as mussels and clams. 3. Sea otters are some of the cutest and most social critters in the ocean … but this hasn’t saved them from threats like oil spills, pollution and climate change. Sea otters have altered ecosystems, making it more difficult for commercial fisherman to catch abalone, clams, Dungeness crabs, red sea urchins and other invertebrates the otters consume. Sea otters are ‘’keystone species” because of their critical role in maintaining the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystems. Here are some viewing tips to help you enjoy watching sea otters and other marine wildlife in a safe and responsible way. In fact, they are now recognised as … ... Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later. They eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. He would go on to realize that sea otters are a keystone predator that increases the abundance of a diverse array of sea life. A keystone species is one that exerts a large, stabilizing influence throughout an ecological community. Sea otters have a very high metabolic rate and must consume the equivalent of 20 to 30 % of their body weight per day to maintain their body heat. As of 2006, the lingering oil in the area continued to affect the population of these valuable sea creatures. Now customize the name of a clipboard to store your clips. Coveted for their extremely dense and insulating fur, sea otter pelts sold for as much as $1,125 each and were made into hats, coats and various other garments. Otters are also found south of the Caspian Sea in the Golestan province. Every sea otter’s return is good news for nature. What Is The Role Of Sea Otters In The Ecosystem? Whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins have a blubbery layer of fat to keep them warm in their environment of cold saltwater, but sea otters lack that layer. For example, in a kelp forest, otters eat sea urchins, and urchins eat kelp. Why Are Sea Otters Important? Sea otters are also considered a sentinel species because their health reflects that of California’s coastal waters. The urchins can destroy the kelp forest. Sea otters are also considered an apex predator in their estuary habitat, eating not only urchins but a variety of mollusks and crustaceans—including crabs. Seagrass meadows are significant to the ecosystem as they result in the protection of the coastal regions and preservation of the habitat for fish. Similarly, their consumption of crabs in estuaries reduces predation on snails. Way to collect important slides you want to watch cute sea otters mostly. On giant kelp otters use them all the time, which could endanger their health reflects that of ’... 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