More than 50 sea otters off the cast of California have been tagged by men working for the local Department of Fish and Game.
More than 50 sea otters off the cast of California have been tagged by men working for the local Department of Fish and Game. The Department is studying the population, feeding habits and living environment of the otters.
Tagging is necessary to make identification possible at later stages of the study, when migratory, habits, age groupings, herd composition, sex ratios, mortality and birth rates will be examined.
The study is also being undertaken to assess the effects on marine ecology of the enormous growth in the sea otter population off the coasts of California.
Other sea life, such as abalone sea urchins clams and crabs, are inevitably affected by their growth.
In the last two centuries, the otters were freely hunted for their fur but uncontrolled trapping caused their numbers to dwindle considerably.
Protective measures just ensured that now they not only survive in the sea around California, but have actually increased and multiplied. At present there are an estimated 1,500 otters living off the California coast.
SYNOPSIS: A study of the sea otter and its habits is being undertaken in the United States by the California Department of Fish and Game. So that the scientists can identify the animals, throughout the study, the otters have to be first trapped and tagged. They are then released unharmed and apparently happy.
There are between 1,200 and 1,500 otters in the California waters and they have been increasing rapidly in recent times. Because their fur was highly priced, there was a time when they were unmercifully hunted; in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, otters were trapped in the waters of the Pacific Ocean from northern Japan to the West Coast of the United States. Today they are totally protected by law.
Paul Wild, a marine biologies, who was appointed head of the study group by the California Department of Fish and Game, personally supervised the tagging operation. He said the work will enable his group of scientists to observe the migratory habits, age groupings, sex ratios, mortality and birth rates of the sea otters. The scientists hope that knowledge of the sea otter will help them learn about other sea life around the coasts of California. It shows for instance how the increase in the number of otters in these waters has affected the abalone, sea urchins, clams and crabs. The whole ecology of an area is bound up with the forms of life which flourish there.
The efforts to safeguard the otter and other mammals living in the Californian waters is considered so important by the Unites States Federal Government, that it has assumed overall responsibility for them since last year.