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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 25, 2012

Sea Otter Populations Grow, But So Do Deaths

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the sea otter population is increasing in spite of  a large number of deaths, many of which are from shark attacks.  The sea otter population has increased 1.5 % per year since 2010 according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S.G.S. reports that there are now  2,792 sea otters in California waters. There was also  a record number of 335 sea otters found dead  in 2011, many  from shark bites. This is the first time shark attacks were the largest cause of deaths among otters. Other causes of sea otter death are toxins, being hit by boats, gunshot wounds and disease.

Historically, the sea otter population went from as high as 15,000 in the 18th century to a belief that they were extinct due to  hunting in the mid 20th century. In 1977 about 50 otters were found in the Big Sur area. They were given endangered species protection allowing the population to grow to what it is today.  Read more at:  Sea otter numbers up, but so are deaths – SFGate.

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