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Sea Otters: Adorable but Threatened Sentinel Species at Risk Due to Pollution and Over-fishing Sentinel Species at Risk Due to Pollution and Over-fishing.

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Presentation on theme: "Sea Otters: Adorable but Threatened Sentinel Species at Risk Due to Pollution and Over-fishing Sentinel Species at Risk Due to Pollution and Over-fishing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sea Otters: Adorable but Threatened Sentinel Species at Risk Due to Pollution and Over-fishing Sentinel Species at Risk Due to Pollution and Over-fishing By Jim Fiddes Danbury HS & PNWBOCES, Yorktown, NY

2 Threats to Sea Otter Population Disease : EPM & toxoplasmosis Contaminants: in water & in prey Starvation: hi food need Entanglement & Entrapment: lines/nets Predation Oil Spills: ExValdez 5K Difficult Environment

3 Sea Otter Biology Enhydra lutris; Mustelidae 150K Alaska; 1.3K Calif. >60 lbs; >20 years; >4’ long high metabolism: 20% body weight in food daily; 3x human dense fur: ~100K/sq in; grooming critical semi-retractable claws; rear outside toe is longest lungs 2x : other mammals whiskers locate prey, feel vibrations

4 Sea Otter Anatomy Muscles for grasping & swimming; side to side on back, vertical flexible spine, longer outer toe; hips hold legs for swimming, more than walking

5 Sea Otter Biology 2 Body temp: 100 F. hold paws & feet up to conserve heat extremely flexible spine; can reach all body to groom-- no blubber, oils & bubbles in fur insulate pouches near back feet to store food tool user: breaks shells with rock, on sternum can dive to 300’; 4 minutes

6 Sea Otter Biology 3 Related to weasels & skunks Social learning: mother teaches pup foraging skills; recognizes unique pup’s call playful & intelligent as dogs “raft” = group of sea otters strong jaws & sharp teeth: canines to break, incisors to scoop meat from shells frequent short naps, feed day & night

7 Sea Otter Ecology 1

8 Sea Otter Ecology 2

9 Sea Otter Ecology 3

10 Sea Otter Ecology 4 rugged coastline steep shore contour bay collects run-off

11 Polluted Food--eat hearty & die... Shellfish concentrate pollutants, which accumulate in otters, & otter milk Sea urchins eat kelp holdfasts, but also are a cash crop; abalone are expensive--fishermen complain: otters eat both urchins destroy kelp forest- -clear-cut = habitat loss

12 Otters & Diseases... Pollutants weaken immune systems Butylin is a biocide in anti-fouling boat paint Concentrations of DDT & PCB correlate with diseases in otters

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14 Predators: Part of the Problem Fur hunters nearly wiped out sea otters; 1911 law stopped sea otter fur trade Over-fishing reduces prey fish species in Alaska; Orcas eat otters California shark population increases, otters now on menu

15 Other Otter Problems & Perils Female injured during mating It’s tough work, being an otter: California: 17 to 38 % foraging - 50 to 68 % resting Amchitka Island, AK: 51 to 58 % time foraging - 32 to 34% resting High infant mortality Other, 3

16 We Can Fix This: Ways to Help Monterey Bay Aq.’s orphan otter recovery & rehab program Fewer feral cats!! Public support & contributions

17 “Sea Otters Threatened”--Annotated Works Cited Details toxoplasmosis & protozoal meningococcus infections from feral cats & opossums--good details & pix One good illus.--short article links pop. decline to fishing nets a-otter_even-more-final.html a-otter_even-more-final.html a-otter_even-more-final.html a-otter_even-more-final.html Cute animation on otter problems w/links to Defenders of Wildlife Good site w/live cams & recovery program profiles, sounds & videos Zoobooks: Sea Otters Wildlife Education, Ltd c.1995 Excellent illus. & photos; detailed text, interesting, inexpensive Excellent site w/live otter cam; detailed info, interesting, authoritative Friends of the Sea Otter--pix, history, videos, &c

18 “Sea Otters Threatened”--Annotated Works Cited 2 Colorful & interesting site, with good links to scientific studies, charts One good illus.--short article links pop. decline to fishing nets Pdf article & some pix, plus good links, & scientists to call Links & articles on all marine mammals; colorful, easy, searchable response.restoration.noaa.gov/ bat/images response.restoration.noaa.gov/ bat/images Extensive database & analysis of Exxon Valdez oil spill; lots of links, images, charts & graphs; NOAA site is great resource itself!

19 We need your help!! Thank you & take care! Now--the Quiz!!!

20 Sea Otter Screen Quiz Name & describe at least three things making sea otters sick List & describe two ways sea otters keep warm Describe at least two other adaptations of the sea otter that enable it to live successfully in the ocean What is the sea otter’s role in the ecology of the kelp forest? 5. sentinel species 5. Three reasons people should concern themselves with the sea otter. (one hint: define “sentinel species”) 1. Cat feces & litter, possum feces, oil, insecticides, pollutants in food & water 2. Air bubbles in fur, fur density, high metabolism & lots of food 3. Grasping front claws, 2x lungs, spine & rear feet adapted for swimming, frequent naps, wraps in kelp…etc 4. Predator, control urchins to preserve kelp 5. Sentinel species-”canaries”; preserve important ecosystem; bring in lots of cash... No Peeking, Now!!

21 This powerpoint was kindly donated to is home to over a thousand powerpoints submitted by teachers. This is a completely free site and requires no registration. Please visit and I hope it will help in your teaching.


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