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California Sea Otter Population Up Slightly

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Marine biologists say they're seeing an increase in otter deaths due to white shark "tasting" bites.

"We've never seen indications that the sharks are actually consuming the otters. It appears to be sort of exploratory bites on the part of the shark."

Tim Tinker is a sea otter expert with the U.S. Geological Survey in Santa Cruz. His latest survey shows there are now 2,792 sea otters in California waters, a 1.5 percent increase since 2010.
But shark attacks and other causes of death - including parasites, infectious diseases and boat strikes - have slowed the otters' recovery.
Last year, the number of dead, sick or injured sea otters discovered along the coast was 335 - a record high.
"Although sea otters are certainly a charismatic species that many people care about, we're interested in them also because they're excellent indicators of the health of the near shore marine ecosystem."
The southern sea otter is a federally protected species.


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