Sea otters’ numbers climbing on county coast

Sea otters, considered one of the most adorable of ocean mammals, are making a slow but steady comeback to the northern San Mateo County coast.

Coastal cities, including Pacifica and San Francisco, have thrown support behind this week’s Sea Otter Awareness Week, an outpouring that comes as the heaviest of the otters, prized for their furs, are spotted more frequently around Half Moon Bay and Pacifica.

The otters are featured more in fishing-excursion materials in Half Moon Bay, which note in their promotional materials that participants on whale-watching adventures might spot one of the elusive furry animals.

Sea otters are equipped with flippers; thick, dense fur; and flexible bodies. Over the last 30 years, the sea otter population has been corralled into the central coast of California around Monterey and Ano Nuevo — an area on the southernmost part of San Mateo County, according to U.S. Geological Survey biologist Jim Estes, who has been studying sea otters since 1970. USGS data from this year shows about a dozen sea otters per year making their way to Half Moon Bay, Pacifica and as far north as Point Reyes in the North Bay.

Scientists are continuously perplexed that the sea otter population isn’t larger on the San Mateo County coast, as food resources are abundant and the weather isn’t too cold or too hot for them, according to information from the USGS.

There are some theories, Estes said, that point to an extensive shark population on the northern coast destroying the population and preventing it from growing more quickly. The animal is endangered, and it is illegal to hunt them in California, fish and game spokesman Al Donner said. They are, however, legally hunted in Alaska. To get off the endangered species list, they will have to bring their population to 3,200 and stay there for about three years, Estes said.

tramroop@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read