The population of southern sea otters has burgeoned leading to higher hopes for this marine species.
This is the first time that southern sea otter numbers have reached a record high. Their population has grown to 3090 individual species, according to USGS.
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This is a limit which has to be kept up for three consecutive years for the southern sea otter to be removed from the list of the Endangered Species Act.
Yet certain local populations at the northern and southern regions are being decimated which is cause for alarm among marine conservationists.
The population of these curious creatures has increased by 3% over the past half a decade or so on an annual basis. As for the population index, it has reached 3272 from 2939 in 2013.
Towards the center of the range of the southern sea otter, the growth has been gradual but constant. This accounts for the bulge in population and the region spans the coast of California from Monterey South to Cambria.
Part of the reason for the higher numbers may be the more clearer view that is available this year. Also the availability of food means that the otters are thriving on a biological level.
The greater number of sea urchins which constitute the main prey of the sea otters means that they live and reproduce more offspring. As more of the pups live till adulthood, the result is a burgeoning population.
While the population index is showing signs of improvement, the northern and southern populations are declining. Stranded otters constitute the tragedies and there are those members of the species that have had lethal shark bites on their frames.
The deaths of these otters are a worrisome trend. The long term scope for the southern sea otters is a mixed bag of hope and dismal forecasting.
While the negative population trends remain intact, perfection is a goal that will always elude the conservationists. The only hope lies in new ecological niches that can be colonized by the otters.
Another population of these otters was monitored. They had settled off the Californian coast in the 80s. They had struggled to survive during the 90s. Yet over the last ten years, they have burgeoned.
The growth rate is 13% per year which is a source of hope indeed. Finally the population index of 3090 is enough to fill a marine wildlife conservationist’s heart.