Photo credit: Wikimedia
Sea otters are not just cute animals swimming and splashing carefree offshore. They are a keystone species, essential to the ecosystem, and they are facing some serious threats!
Sea otters naturally thrive in nearshore habitats. They eat 40 plus different types of species such as clams, urchins, and snails. The animals that they prey on devour kelp forests. Therefore, sea otters are crucial to maintaining kelp forest levels, which provide cover and food for many marine animals. In addition, kelp forests capture carbon in these ecosystems which helps to offset carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Unfortunately sea otters are having to fight off more than just predators to survive these days. Their population levels are decreasing due to high mortality rates among prime-aged adults. Scientist claim that up to 40 percent of these deaths are results of human pollution.
Now that you know how vital a sea otters’ role in the ecosystem is and why they’re threatened we want to let you in on 12 simple steps that will help to maintain and hopefully increase sea otter populations.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever you can.
- Dispose of hazardous wastes properly.
- Grow a garden. The roots take in water, reducing the amount of runoff.
- Use nontoxic household cleaning products.
- Don’t litter or dump materials into storm drains.
- Pick up after your pets.
- Use less water.
- Purchase sustainable, recycled, biodegradable goods.
- Volunteer to help or create a beach clean up.
- Get your car oil changed to prevent leaks.
- Donate to the California Sea Otter Fund.
- Learn more about ocean issues and share your knowledge!
Remember even if you don’t live near the sea all drains run to into streams which flow into rivers and eventually reach our oceans.
So yes, we want to save sea otters because they play an essential role in the lives of many animals around them, including humans, but also because no animal deserves to become endangered or extinct due to our impact.