Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sea otters

I really love the antics of Sea Otters. They are the jokers of the sea. One of the best places to watch them from the shore is in the Monterey Bay along the California coastline. Monterey Bay is also the location of the Monerery Bay Aquarium where they have an otter cam located on their website. Michelle Staedler is Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sea otter research coordinator and she is alarmed at the falling otter population. Their numbers are down by 1.3% from 2005, their numbers should be growing.

Otters are no longer hunted, at least legally, so that is not a major factor in their declining numbers. I have a spreadsheet on my notebook computer that I use to track the other major causes of their decline in numbers. Disease and parasites have been playing an important part in their demise. For example sea otters are prey to a parasitic worm that burrows into their intestine. They are also dying of toxoplasmosis which kill brain tissue, causing seizures and disability.

Toxoplasmosis is something I have written about in the past. It is an organism that is found in cat poop. When people flush cat poop or litter down their toilets is when it makes its way to the world's oceans and ends up killing the sea otters.

I would like to see the sea otters survive just a few hundred more years at least. If only the cat owning public were made more aware of the consequences of flushing their cats' poop or litter.

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