O’Hara, P. D., P. Davidson, and A. E. Burger. Sources and impacts of natural predation on the Sea Otter population in coastal British Columbia are not well documented. Archaeological evidence indicates that for thousands of years, indigenous peoples have hunted sea otters for food and fur. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) would like to thank the 2011-2012 Sea Otter Technical Team members for drafting this document and contributing valuable advice: Heather Brekke, Paul Cottrell, and Jonathan Thar from DFO Fisheries Management; Linda Nichol, John Ford and Robin Abernethy from DFO Science; and Cliff Robinson and Pippa Shepherd from Parks Canada Agency. Ballachey, H.A. This complex habitat of reefs and rocky islets and variable depths likely provides a variety of nearby resting and rafting locations suitable during different conditions. Monson, D.H., D.F. The area is closed to shellfish harvesting. [accesed January 2012]. There is also a possibility that the availability of pelts within First Nation communities may inadvertently create an interest in the acquisition of pelts by unauthorized people and development of an illegal market. Estes, J.L.Bodkin, and D.B. Surveys in 2001 resulted in a count of 2,673 Sea Otters along the Vancouver Island coast and 507 on the central British Columbia coast (Nichol et al. Since the Species at Risk Act came into force, DFO’s Conservation and Protection Branch has dedicated over 1000 hours specifically to Sea Otter protection and enforcement in Canadian Pacific waters. Hickey, and R.A. Horner. 2010a). Major marine vessel casualty risk and response preparedness in British Columbia [PDF 23.3 Mb]. Washington had an estimated population of 1,004 animals in 2010. Summary of a meeting held February 22, 1995 at the Vancouver Aquarium. These communities also support a greater abundance and diversity of fish species (Reisewitz et al. Canadian Occurrence: British Columbia, Pacific Ocean. Jessup. Northward expansion of this population across Juan de Fuca Strait to Vancouver Island where there is suitable Sea Otter habitat is a future possibility (Gerber et al. Lamb, W. K. In British Columbia, they are found along the windswept west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast, near Bella Bella. Stock Assessment Report: Sea otters (Enhydra lutris): Southcentral Alaska stock [PDF 385 Kb]. 2008. In British Columbia, Sea Otters occupy exposed coastal areas with extensive rock reefs and associated shallow depths. The health impact of the residue levels found in Sea Otters in British Columbia and Washington are not clear. In 1989, females with pups were reported near the Goose Islands on the central British Columbia coast indicating establishment of Sea Otters in the area (British Columbia Parks 1995). Nearly 1,000 Sea Otter carcasses were recovered within the first six months, and acute mortality estimates ranged from 2,650 (Garrott et al. Looking to the past, however, could offer a blueprint to a more equitable ecosystem. 2009). Between 1988 and 2000, comprehensive counts were led by Dr. Jane Watson as part of her Ph.D. work and then an on-going study of the effects of Sea Otters on nearshore communities; see Watson et al. Modeling the effects of mortality on sea otter populations: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5096. Pup carcasses found at eagle nests suggest eagles may be a source of pup mortality in British Columbia (Watson et al. Molecular Ecology 11:1899-1903. Moeller, J.M. Persistent organic pollutants that suppress immune function appear to exacerbate morbillivirus-related outbreaks in other marine mammals (Ross 2002). Marine Mammal Science 9:156-167. However, the impact of by-catch from new or expanded fisheries since the 1980s (crab, lobster and finfish traps) in California has become of concern as a possible cause of the lack of recovery of the southern Sea Otter population (Hatfield et al. A voyage of discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and round the world 1791–1795 by George Vancouver, with an introduction and appendices. Dabritz, A.E. 318pp. DFO Pacific region has a web page describing the Sea Otter Program and also provides information for reporting sightings of Sea Otters. comm. James, A.C. Melli, C.M. 1969. 2004; Lance et al. Recovering resident killer whales: A guide to contaminant sources, mitigation, and regulations in British Columbia. 2003. The Potential Biological Removal model was reviewed for use in estimating limits to all sources of human caused mortality for the Sea Otter population within British Columbia (DFO 2007). The activities implemented by Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be subject to the availability of funding and other required resources. Canadian Journal of Zoology 81:1494-1510. Sea otter conservation: report from the sixth joint U.S. - Russia sea otter workshop November 1997. [accessed January 2012]. The fur consists of an outer layer of protective guard hairs and a fine dense under fur of approximately 100,000 hairs per cm2 (Kenyon 1969). DFO [Fisheries and Oceans Canada]. Spring 2010 Mainland California Sea Otter Survey Results. Hatfield, K. Ralls and J. Ames. There are no known interactions at this time between open water shellfish aquaculture or finfish aquaculture operations and Sea Otters on the British Columbia coast. Waldichuck, M. 1989. 2002. 2003. Pp 37-45, in Marine Mammal Species Accounts. Thus mortality may be higher in winter months when conditions limit access to foraging areas. Large-scale hunting, part of the Maritime Fur Trade, which would eventually kill approximately one million sea otters, began in the 18th century when hunters and traders began to arrive from all over the world to meet foreign demand for otter pelts, which were one of the world's most valua… It is unclear where the T. gondii variant found in Sea Otters has come from but it appears most likely to be a terrestrial source whereby infectious oocysts of the parasite are washed into the marine environment from urban and agricultural areas by rain. 2002; Conrad et al. 2012. Western Alaska had an estimated population of 47,676 animals in 2000-04. Risk Assessment and Management of Spills, International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited, Results of the 2010 survey of the reintroduced sea otter population in Washington State [PDF 2.8 Mb], Kinder Morgan Canada presentation [PDF 651 Kb], Major marine vessel casualty risk and response preparedness in British Columbia [PDF 23.3 Mb], Conservation plan for the sea otter in Alaska, USGS [United States Geological Survey]. (1998) hypothesize that because of dramatic declines in seal and sea lion populations in response to a large-scale ecosystem shift, mammal-eating Killer Whales have switched to preying on Sea Otters in western Alaska and are the cause of the observed decline in the Sea Otter population. Sea Otters are sexually dimorphic, although differences are not readily discernible at a distance. USFW. Surveys, sightings and communications – Heiltsuk First Nation, Habitat Stewardship Program project (2006-2009). Jessup, L.J. They "raft" together in sexually segregated groups of up to several hundred animals. Checleset Bay, Kyoquot Sound, Nuchatlitz, Nootka Island and Clayoquot Sound) as well as winter aerial surveys in Clayoquot Sound (2002-2008). What’s more, far from dominating their historic range, she adds, otters were likely distributed in patches along the coast, separated from shellfish beds and the human settlements that relied on them. Although there has been considerable research examining the ecological role of Sea Otters and their influence on nearshore rocky habitats and upon the life history of their prey (see Section 3.3.2 Ecological Role), further research is required to determine Northern Abalone population parameters in the presence of Sea Otters, to determine objectives for Northern Abalone recovery. ), the Sea Otter population in Canada has increased to about 900 animals and has been growing at a rate of 17 to 20 percent per year. Pp. 1787–1920. In response to this, the Canadian Sea Otter Recovery Team formed an oil response plan specifically for the sea otter, and implemented it in 2004 (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2013). Correlates to survival of juvenile sea otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1992–1993. Red Tides. 2003. DeMaster. Prior to the maritime fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, Sea Otters ranged from northern Japan to central Baja California, Mexico but commercial exploitation commencing in the 1740’s led to near extinction of the species. Several participants highlighted an apparent oversight with the recovery effort: before the animals were exploited for their fur, human hunters acted as a kind of control on their populations, helping coastal communities strike a balance with them; without a mechanism to keep the species in check, that balance is gone. 2010. a remnant population or a result of reintroduction) and samples were collected in 2004 and 2010 for further research on genetic structure and diversity in the population. 2009). Doak, B.E. Southall, B.L., A.E. COSEWIC Status History: Designated Endangered in April 1978. 2014. Throughout the North Pacific, the Sea Otter presently occupies about one half to two thirds of its historical range. The first row lists the column headings for the subsequent rows describing the threat attributes, as follows: attribute, level of effect, and description of the level of effect. 27 pp. Ballachey, A. Johnson, and J.L. Overall, the threat ofpersistent bioaccumulating toxins is considered to be a “low” level of concern at this time. Sea otter mortality at Kodiak Island, Alaska, during summer 1987. Reintroduced Sea Otter populations extend through Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Washington (Estes 1990) (Figure 1). Temporal and spatial patterns in sea otter (Enhydra lutris) range expansion and in the loss of the clam fisheries. 2010. 1996. Kinder Morgan Canada presentation [PDF 651 Kb]. Sea otters have the thickest fur of any mammal, which makes them a common target for many hunters. Their susceptibility to oil and the proximity to major oil tanker routes make them particularly vulnerable to oil spills. Areas with complex rocky benthic habitats are typically occupied. American Society of Mammalogists. 2003. Paradies, K.R. Eighteen Sea Otters were live-captured on the central British Columbia coastin2003and in 2004, 24 Sea Otters were live-captured on the west coast of Vancouver Island; blood and skin biopsy samples were collected during each capture. Ballachey, and J.L. While this section considers the effects of hydrocarbon spills, spills of other chemicals and substances may also be of concern depending on their toxicity and persistence in the environment. The decline in western Alaska suggests that a better understanding and appreciation of sources of density-independent factors impacting the Canadian Sea Otter population may be warranted. Veterinary Parasitology 172:183–194. In contrast, Killer Whale predation may be significant in western Alaska, where dramatic declines in the Sea Otter population are underway. The role of immunotoxic environmental contaminants in facilitating the emergence of infectious diseases in marine mammals. 2000b. However, individual adult males establish and occupy breeding territories in female areas. Sampling collection and assessment of genetic origin, disease exposure and contaminants in Sea Otters (2003 - present). By the 1950s, the population in south western Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands in particular, was sizable and until the early 1980s the bulk of the global population occurred in the Aleutian Islands (55,100 to 73,700 individuals) (Calkins and Schneider 1985). The sea otter (Enhydra lutris): Behaviour, ecology and natural history. Carpenter, P.A. Stock Assessment Report: Sea otters (Enhydra lutris): Southwest Alaska stock [PDF 395 Kb]. Harmful algae and Canadian waters and management strategies. The interaction between contaminant burden and disease is considered a possible factor in the high rate of disease-caused mortality in the southern Sea Otter population (Thomas and Cole 1996; Reeves 2002; Ross 2002). Undertake annual surveys of the Sea Otter population in index areas, areas of range expansion, and other portions of their range as needed, as well as a total population survey every five years to monitor population trends and distribution. Improve estimation of all sources and magnitude of human-induced mortality. DFO Canadian Science Advisor Secretariat Research Document 2007/034. Douben (ed). Figure 3. Comments were received from the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Biodiversity and Conservation 13:2741-2757. Laboratory animal studies have conclusively demonstrated that such chemicals are endocrine disrupting, with effects observed on reproduction, the immune system, and growth and development. Santa Cruz, California, January 2002. Due to potential chronic oil exposure, Harris et al. Did the geographic range of Sea Otters continue to expand naturally beyond the 2008 continuous range? The toxin responsible for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), produced by certain dinoflagellate species, can accumulate to toxic levels in filter-feeding bivalves. Whyte, J.N.C., J.C. Davis, and R. Forbes. [Accessed August 14, 2012]. As the population expands into areas adjacent to human settlement this threat may increase. Marine Mammals and the Exxon Valdez. 2000a. This impact has been raised as a concern by First Nations as well as commercial shellfish harvesters. 1993. “Those people up there were very upset about having [the otters] around because they’re eating everything up,” he says. 2006. Overall, the threat ofoil spills is considered to be a “high” level of concern because of the highly vulnerable nature of the Sea Otter to oil, and the trend of increased volume and frequency of transport of heavy oil products in Canadian Pacific waters. Concentrated areas of 101 or more vessels are throughout this range as well as within inside waters (inlets along the central coast), and areas of more than 1001 vessels are shown in inside waters along the central coast including areas near communities (Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Bella Bella and Port Hardy) as well as Queen Charlotte Strait. Calkins, D.G., and K.B. Sono Nis Press, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The Threat, Stress, Extent, and attributes (such as occurrence, frequency, severity, local or range-wide extent and causal certainty) are listed. Ford. Patterns of mortality in the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), from 1998 to 2001. Jessup and J.A.K. no. It has been thought not to be significant although this may change at local levels as the Sea Otter population expands its range and comes in closer proximity to human-populated areas. The PBR value represents total allowable harm from all sources of human-induced mortality (DFO 2007). Peterson, C.H., S.D. The performance indicators presented in the management objective provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the broad strategies and conservation measures. 2000b). Taylor, F.J.R. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s database of domoic acid sampling from marine invertebrates from the west coast of Vancouver Island (1994 – 2004), and information in the scientific literature indicates that domoic acid has been detected in British Columbia but typically at low levels (only 9 of 166 samples between 1994 and 2004 exceeded 20ppm). The reintroduction to B.C. Timely information greatly increases the ability of officers to respond to reports. Assessment of threats to the population (Table 2) allows for the prioritization of recommended management and other actions to prevent the Sea Otter from becoming threatened or endangered. Abstract In: 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Society for Marine Mammalogy, San Diego, California, December 12 to 16, 2005. Hatfield, B.B., J.A. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the sea otter Enhydra lutris in Canada. These compounds have recently been measured in Sea Otters in Alaska from 1992 to 2007 (Hart et al. The effects of oil contamination and cleaning on sea otters (Enhydra lutris). 2007. Continuing sea otter population declines in the Aleutian Archipelago. Survival post-weaning to one year of age tends also to be lower in populations near equilibrium (Monson et al. It is protected by the province’s Wildlife Act2 and Regulations. 1998. While all other marine mammals have a layer of subcutaneous blubber to insulate them, Sea Otters have little body fat and instead rely on an exceptionally high metabolic rate and a layer of air trapped in their dense fur for insulation. Totally extirpated through hunting by the early 1900s, a reintroduction of 89 individuals in 1969 has now grown to an estimated 3,000 individuals living from Cape Scott to Barkley Sound on the west coast of the island. Prior to the Maritime fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 sea otters lived along the Pacific Rim, ranging from northern Japan to the Baja peninsula. Guiguet. 2000a). 2012). J.J. Burns, K.J. Simenstad, and J.A. The public is encouraged to report suspicious behaviour immediately to the 24-hour Observe, Record Report line at 1-800-465-4336. It is estimated that by 2004 the Sea Otter occupied 25-33% of its historical range within British Columbia (DFO, 2007). Marine Mammal Noise Exposure Criteria: Initial Scientific Recommendations. 1990. Unoccupied habitat is sequentially occupied as the number of Sea Otters in an area approaches carrying capacity. Markel, R.W. Disease is discussed in section 1.5.2 as a threat because of the potential interaction between human influences from contaminant exposure and introduction of novel infectious diseases in Sea Otters and their habitat. Sea Otters are nearshore animals with strong site fidelity, and will remain in or return to oiled areas. 1998. Table 1presents recent population estimates made of populations in North America. Final report of the States/British Columbia oil spill task force. 1999). 1984; Jameson 1989). Although there is a voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone (TEZ) which pushes petroleum carrying tankers to 50 km from the coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, this applies to tankers transiting from Alaska to southern U.S. states, but not to vessels and barges transporting these products through Canadian Pacific waters (MacConnachie et al. 2011. 65(1):75-100. Conrad, and J.A.K. Lipscomb, T.P., R.K. Harris, R.B. gear modifications that restrict Sea Otters from entering traps or switching gear types in areas occupied by Sea Otters) is the best approach to address this threat. Mazet. Ellis, T.G. Although Sea Otters are non-migratory, sea conditions may influence their use of habitat at certain times of the year. Hammond. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment 8:277-292. Overall, directed harvest is a “low” level of concern because it is an anticipated but not yet occurring threat, and the extent of threat is unknown at this time. Estes, J.A., and D.O. However with continued range expansion and increasing eco-tourism activity seeking out Sea Otter viewing opportunities or that may cause disturbance while viewing other species local areas of concern from disturbance may be emerging. Promoting and enforcing compliance with legislation that protects sea otters. International Journal for Parasitology 35:1155-1168. Sea otters depend on these hairs to keep them warm while in the water and maintain their body heat without the blubber other sea mammals use. Bodkin. Cowan, I.M., and C.J. Ingested oil contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that damage internal organs, and lead to chronic and acute effects on Sea Otter health and survival (Lipscomb et al. 2002). An estimation of carrying capacity for sea otters along the California coast. Surveys in 2008 resulted in a count of 4,110 Sea Otters along the Vancouver Island coast and 602 on the central British Columbia coast (Nichol et al. United States Geological Survey. Miller, C. Kreuder, E.R. Sea Otters groom frequently to maintain the integrity of their fur and its ability to hold a layer of trapped air for insulation (reviewed in Riedman and Estes 1990). Within British Columbia, the species is on the provincial Blue List1 and has received a rank of S3 (S=provincial status, 3=special concern) (British Columbia Conservation Data Centre 2012). Burn. Sea Otters have flattened hindfeet with elongated digits to allow them to swim efficiently while lying on their back and underwater (Kenyon 1969). 2009. Population modeling using data from 1976 to 1998 showed that Sea Otters in Prince William Sound had decreased survival rates in all age-classes in the nine years following the spill and the Prince William Sound Sea Otter population had not yet fully recovered to pre-spill levels (Monson et al. This suggests Sea Otters in BC are vulnerable to hydrocarbon contamination even in the absence of catastrophic oil spills (Harris et al. Significant mortality could be demonstrated by an increase in the number of carcasses reported washed up on beaches or a detectable decline in population in a particular area. The Sea Otter is a density-dependent species and population growth is ultimately regulated by resource availability. Monson D.H., D.F. Sea otters were originally found throughout the north Pacific including Japan, Russia, the United States, Canada and Mexico. DeGange, A.R., and M.M. The river otter (Lutra canadensis) occurs throughout N America except in desert and arid tundra regions.In Canada it is scarce, except along the BC coast, where it is abundant and often wrongly identified as a sea otter.. Doak, J.A Estes, B.B. The Hakluyt Society, London, United Kingdom. Even in the absence of catastrophic oil spills Sea Otters are still vulnerable to hydrocarbon contamination. [Accessed July 4, 2012]. Douben (ed). Kreuder, C., M.A. Research activities may include: Communication to the public and others is important to promote understanding and support and for the need to protect Sea Otters. 61pp. As of 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimated B.C.’s otter population at more than 8,000, reoccupying somewhere between a quarter to a third of their historic range in the province. Underwater noise disturbances are not well understood for Sea Otter, but Southall et al. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39(3):495-509. Environ., Victoria, BC. Canadian Journal of Zoology 71:1811-1815. 2009). 2010b. Prioritization of threats listed as ‘low level of concern’ was assessed by causal certainty for extent of threat in Canadian Pacific waters as well as ability to mitigate the threat. In 2014, a workshop at the Hakai Institute, a research institution on the central coast, brought many of these people together with the goal of reimagining the relationship between humans and sea otters. 1980. Chronic exposure of Sea Otters to PAHs may also occur from chronic oil spills. 2007). 1995, Meador 2003). *IMPORTANT NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: DFO does not assume any responsibility for the quality of information, products or services listed in the Web sites provided above. 2008a. Recovery Potential Assessment for Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris). 2006. Ballachey. All but the Oregon reintroduction were successful in establishing population (Jameson et al.1982). Ross. Estes. So far, only CANUSDIX includes a section regarding response procedures for wildlife in the event of a pollution incident. Conservation measures have been recommended where implementation is deemed to be practical and feasible, and most likely to result in successful protection of the population in Canada. Jessup, F. Gulland, and M.E. Historical accounts from explorers and maritime fur traders indicate that the west coast of Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and the central and northern mainland coast were important trading destinations, implying an abundance of Sea Otters (Dixon 1789; Howay 1973; Lillard 1989; Dick 2006). Today, threats to the species may arise from the effect of any combination of threats (Table 1), in conjunction with limiting factors (see Section 3.3.3 ‘Limiting Factors’). With the summer sun due to set in about an hour, he says, nearby sea otters are likely out foraging. When present, kelp beds are often used habitually as rafting sites (Loughlin 1980; Jameson 1989). 1997. A proposal has been made to increase the volume of crude oil transported through the Port of Vancouver from 5 billion litres annually in 2010 to 26 billion litres annually (Kinder Morgan 2010). Sea Otters were likely widely distributed along the coast of British Columbia. Support the enforcement of the Fisheries Act, Marine Mammal Regulations, Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licenses Regulations, Oceans Act, Canada National Parks Act, National Marine Conservation Areas Act, and British Columbia provincial Wildlife Act. Reproduction, survival and tag loss in California sea otters. Users should also be aware that information from external sources is available only in the language in which it was provided. Bodkin, J.L., D. Mulcahy, and C.J. Marine Ecology Progress Series 241:237-253. Carpenter, J. Sea Otters feed on benthic invertebrates, which can accumulate and store toxic hydrocarbons during, and after, an oil spill (Meador et al. Carrying little fat beneath those dense, fur coats, the animals need to consume more than 20 per cent of their body weight each day to stay warm in the water, which makes them a competitive threat to commercial fisheries harvesting urchin or other shellfish. Predation is a limiting factor that contributes to demography. Irons. Harris, K.A ., M.B. Most pesticidal uses of DDT were phased out in the early to mid-1970s but in many tropical countries DDT is still used for the control of malaria and hence transport of DDT likely occurs by atmospheric transport (Garrett and Ross 2010). The sea otter population within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is estimated to be more than 1,200. 2009. Many of the conservation measures that fall under these broad strategies are currently underway (see Section 6.1 ‘Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway’). The size of the British Columbia pre-fur trade Sea Otter population is unknown; the fur trade records are incomplete but indicate that Sea Otters were abundant. Having spoken with members of these communities, Salomon says that some hunt the otters regardless of the protections, exercising what they say are Indigenous rights and responsibilities—a prerogative that Martin claims himself. Than 2,000 animals ( DFO marine Mammal Laboratory, Seattle, and patches of soft sediment habitat found live. In reproductive failure ) to correspond to the 24-hour Observe, Record Report line at 1-800-465-4336 for continued.. The current level of illegal kills is unknown and the recovery of residue... James, J. Ames, D. Jessup, A.K has led boat based and aerial surveys of Otters... 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