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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

2022 Sea Otter Science Symposium (October 25)

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Join us for all things sea otters, science & fun!

All are welcome to join us for a Virtual 1-day 2022 Sea Otter Science Symposium on Tuesday October 25th. The Symposium speakers hail from across the globe, which will make for some unique conversations and perspectives. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to register.

This year, our focus is “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Our hope is that you take away valuable knowledge regarding the protection of our precious ocean ecosystems, no matter where you reside. You can make a difference! We want to say thank you to Defenders of Wildlife and Sea Otter Savvy for their partnership.

Photo: Ingrid Taylar

Review the agenda for the Symposium below, listed in Pacific Time:

Tuesday October 25th: 9am-5:30pm PDT

  • 9:00am: KEYNOTE: Dr. Ralph Chami (Co-Founder of Blue Green Future): Natural Capital & Marine Conservation
  • 10:00am: Dr. Steven Rumrill (Shellfish Program Leader, ODFWS): Changes to Rocky Reef Habitat on the Southern Oregon Coast
  • 11:00am: Dr. Leigh Torres (Oregon State University, GEMM Lab): Importance of Kelp to Gray Whales
    ——– BREAK ——–
  • 1:30pm: Tom Calvanese (Oregon Kelp Alliance Coordinator): Toward Kelp Forest Restoration
  • 2:30pm: Tristin McHugh (Kelp Project Director, The Nature Conservancy): California Kelp Restoration Strategy
  • 3:30pm: Joanna Lyle (Blue Carbon Fellow, The Nature Conservancy | Oregon Sea Grant): Exploring Blue Carbon in Oregon
  • 4:30pm: Dr. Philip Seddon (University of Otago, New Zealand): IUCN Conservation Translocation Considerations

We are asking participants to provide a $10 registration fee, but scholarships are available for students and others for whom $10 would be a barrier by emailing Chanel Hason, chanel@elakhaalliance.org.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

USFWS Panel Discussion: Sea Otter Reintroduction along Pacific West Coast (9/19/22)

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Join the Elakha Alliance as we welcome three representatives from the United State Fish & Wildlife Service to discuss all the details about potential sea otter reintroductions along the West Coast.

Photo: Arthur Morris, Getty Images

The Elakha Alliance has invited Lillian Carswell, who will give a short presentation summarizing the findings of the most recent USFWS Feasibility Assessment regarding the reintroduction of sea otters to Northern California and Oregon. Then, Michele Zwartjes and Michelle St. Martin will join Lillian Carswell on a panel to answer pertinent questions submitted by participants using the registration form below.

USFWS Panel Representatives:

  • Michele Zwartjes, Field Supervisor for the Oregon Coast Field Office, USFWS
  • Lillian Carswell, Southern Sea Otter Recovery & Marine conservation Coordinator, USFWS
  • Michelle St. Martin, Marine Conservation Coordinator, USFWS

This Webinar will take place on Monday September 19th, from 6:30pm-7:30pm PDT via Zoom. Use the form below to RSVP.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Sharing Space with Sea Otters: A Case Study of Coexistence in a Crowded World (3/29/22)

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Balancing Sea Otter &
Human Interactions

The Elakha Alliance is thrilled to invite Sea Otter Savvy‘s Founder and Director, Gena Bentall, and Science Communication Director, Heather Barrett, to tell the story of the return of sea otters to a human-occupied California coast and the challenges of balancing the needs of wildlife and people in a changing world.

This webinar will take place on Tuesday March 29th, 2022 at 6pm PDT. Please use the form below to register for the Zoom link.

Speaker Bios:

Heather Barrett & Gena Bentall

Since 2001, Gena has worked as a sea otter biologist, studying sea otters in such wide-ranging locations as the Aleutian Islands, Russia’s Commander Islands, San Nicolas Island off the coast of Southern California, and along the Central California coast. After years of studying sea otters in the wild, Gena has learned much about their unique biology and behavior and witnessed first-hand the chronic nature of disturbance by human recreation activities. In early 2014 she first began to pursue the idea of organizing a program specifically dedicated to alleviating this chronic disturbance through education.  Gena has directed the Sea Otter Savvy program since 2015 and currently serves as Director and President of the Board of Directors.

Heather’s interest in sea otter conservation and ecology has developed through her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz, internship through the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and graduate research at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. As the Science Communication Director of Sea Otter Savvy,  Heather refines science communication strategies, oversees creation and promotion of science-related materials, leads science-related media relations, and develops special projects for outreach. As the Research Scientist, Heather continues her research interests in human disturbance to sea otters.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Webinar: What Lies Beneath (1/20/22)

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Let’s Go On An Underwater Safari!

Laura Tesler

The Elakha Alliance has invited guest speaker, Laura Tesler, to take you on an underwater safari starting in British Columbia and traveling south along the coastline all the way down to California. See what lies beneath the beautiful Pacific ocean waves and why it is worth braving the rough conditions and 40 degree waters to dive the coastal waters of the Pacific. Learn a few fun facts along the way about marine reserves and BOFFFs!

This webinar will take place for free on Thursday January 20th, 2022 at 7:00pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.

Laura Tesler’s Biography

Laura Tesler

I grew up watching the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and old Sea Hunt episodes and always thought it would be great to learn how to dive. On my open water certification in 2005, I remember sitting at 50 feet in Nellie’s Cove outside Port Orford and watching rockfish and thinking I was stupid for not learning how to dive earlier. In any case, I eventually gained my Divemaster certification (December 2014) and I haven’t turned back. In 2006, I added a point and shoot camera and for the first 5 years took a lot of bad pictures… however I eventually got to the point where I made a large investment in my camera equipment as my diving skills improved and now, I take a lot of OK pictures (my opinion). I love to travel, and although 90% of my 300+ dives have been in cold water, I do treat myself with a warmwater trip to a foreign locale every now and then (although I usually annually dive Florida as my in-laws reside there). I also became a certified level 5 REEF surveyor so I am usually surveying whilst I am diving.

I live with my husband and son and they are certified non divers, however I have a lot of wonderful dive friends that I am always having fun and adventures with. I went to school to be a fisheries biologist with a focus on inland freshwater fisheries. I currently am gainfully employed (for almost 25 years) where I am the field coordinator for a mitigation program that purchases property for wildlife conservation in the Willamette valley. This is a fun job that takes me all over the valley and I am learning lots of new information about wildlife and the types of habitat they need to prosper in a rapidly urbanizing landscape.

I own all my own equipment- and I like it that way. I recently switched to a back plate from a jacket style BCD and it’s really better for me without a weight belt. I also like the trim better underwater. I wish I saw more women diving cold water. I think that statistic is changing over time. It would be great if we could encourage more women (and people in general) to dive our beautiful temperate waters. Some of the best diving I have ever done has been in Canada and it rivaled the best of the tropical diving in diversity and beauty. 

I enjoy being a “silent partner” in the OSC as I live in Salem and don’t come to meetings in Portland regularly… however I love how active the club is and I like the information exchange on the FB page. Look me up if you want to dive sometime!

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Webinar: Chasing Kelp: A bull kelp journey across the Pacific Coast (12/1/21)

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Learn the history of
Seaweeds & Kelp of the Pacific Coast

Credit: Josie Iselin

Josie Iselin will take us on her journey as an artist diving deep into the science of the seaweed and kelp of our Pacific West Coast. The images and chapters of her book the The Curious World of Seaweed will be a jumping off point into her current research and artwork concerning the history of kelp surveys and maps. Her newest project, entitled Chasing Kelp will be discussed as it is currently evolving. Comparing the underpinnings to storytelling concerning kelp in California versus Oregon, Puget Sound and Alaska are some of her current preoccupations, as visual artist and storyteller, she is delighted to bring for discussion with the Elakha Alliance community.

This webinar will take place for free on Wednesday December 1st, at 6:00pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.

About The Guest Presenter: Josie Iselin

Josie Iselin is the photographer, author and designer of many books exploring our coastal universe. Beach Stones was published in 2006, Beach: A Book of Treasure in 2010 and her visual primer on seaweed, An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed, was published in 2014. Iselin continues her explorations into the world of marine algae with her most recent book, The Curious World of Seaweed (Heyday Books, August 2019, winner Tiffany Award from Phycological Society of America and shortlisted for The Northern California Book Awards and The Alice Award), an ambitious combination of essays and historical as well as contemporary imagery. This book chronicles the natural history as well as the history of science of sixteen iconic seaweeds and kelps. Iselin uses her visual art practice—the act of looking closely—as the stimulus for her scientific research and storytelling. You can often find her on various coasts at low tide exploring tide pools and investigating the intertidal realm. 

Josie Iselin holds a BA in visual and environmental studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University. For over twenty-five years she has used her flatbed scanner and computer for generating imagery. Iselin exhibits large-scale fine art prints at select galleries and museums, advocates for ocean health through education and speaks widely on the confluence of art and science. She teaches in the School of Design at San Francisco State University and is constantly exploring ways to bring design and art students closer to the ocean world as well as bring design concepts into the realm of ocean science. Seaweeds’ stories and beauty are a good way to make these connections! Josie always has new projects in the works at her studio, Loving Blind Productions, located underneath her house, on a steep hill in San Francisco. Her work is on view at www.josieiselin.com.

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Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Watch The 2021 Sea Otter Science Symposium

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Thank you to the 100’s of individuals who joined us from around the globe for our 2nd virtual Sea Otter Science Symposium. This year’s focus was on the results from our Feasibility Study draft, discussing the key components when considering a sea otter reintroduction in Oregon.

We invite you to watch all of the individual presentations below from phenomenal scientists including: Dr. Tim Tinker, James Bodkin, Dr. Mike Murray, Dr. Lynn Lee, Dr. Salvador Jogensen, Sara Hamilton, Dr. Alan Shanks, Dr. Shawn Larson, Dr. Jan Hodder, and more! If you’d like to watch more educational videos from our previous events, visit our Youtube Channel.

Day 1: Sea Otter Science Symposium

Introduction + Tim Tinker: Oregon Feasibility Study Takeaways
James Bodkin: Lessons From Other Translocations; Prospects for Oregon
Michele Zwartjes: Regulatory & Legal Framework for Restoration
Mike Murray: Health & Animal Welfare Considerations in Translocations

Keynote Presentation:

Keynote: The Magic & Majesty of Kelp Forests w/ Kyle Cavanaugh, Patrick Webster & Emma Akmakdjian

Day 2: Sea Otter Science Symposium

Lynn Lee: Ecosystem Effects of Renewed Sea Otter Presence
Salvador Jorgensen: Great White Sharks & Sea Otter Restoration
Sara Hamilton: Oregon’s Kelp Forests – Status & Trends
Alan Shanks: Dungeness Crab Life History & Sea Otter Return

Day 3: Sea Otter Science Symposium

Shawn Larson: Genetic Aspects & Benefits of Sea Otter Translocations
Jan Hodder: Habitat Suitability on the Oregon Coast for Sea Otters
Tim Tinker: Oregon Sea Otter Population Model & Recovery Scenarios
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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Sea Otter Awareness Week Presentation (9/24/21)

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Learn About the Cultural Importance
of Sea Otters in the Pacific Northwest

It is hard to appreciate the historical, cultural, and ecological significance of a species that disappeared from Oregon’s coastal waters over a century ago. What has the loss of sea otters meant to Oregon’s indigenous peoples? What does their absence mean to the health of nearshore ecosystems? What might be gained from the return of sea otters to Oregon?

Hosted by the Defenders of Wildlife in partnership with Sea Otter Savvy’s ‘We Were Here’ program, Peter Hatch (Elakha Alliance Board Secretary & member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz) will discuss the history and possible future of sea otters in Oregon.

We invite you to take this stakeholder survey about possible sea otter reintroduction along the West Coast.

This webinar will occur on Friday September 24th at 5pm PDT.


About Sea Otter Awareness Week

Annually, throughout the last week of September, Defenders of Wildlife, Sea Otter Savvy, and CA State Parks come together to celebrate sea otters during Sea Otter Awareness Week. They encourage zoological and educational institutions, governmental agencies and communities to plan and undertake events that highlight sea otters. These activities include sharing stories, disseminating science and generating media that inspire a deeper awareness of these unique marine mammals, their ecological importance and the many challenges they face. View all of the wonderful presentations and events here.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Webinar: History of Abalone w/ Ann Vileisis (5/25/21)

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Abalone, the remarkable history and uncertain future of California’s iconic shellfish

Prized for their iridescent shells and delectable meat, abalone have a long and rich cultural history on the West Coast and also an ecological history with sea otters; but with increasing stresses to marine ecosystems today, these unique mollusks now face enormous challenges. Join award-winning author Ann Vileisis for a deep dive into the environmental history of abalone, based on her new book Abalone: the remarkable history and uncertain future of California’s iconic shellfish, including updates on exciting current endangered species recovery efforts. This webinar will take place for free on Tuesday May 25th, at 6:30pm PST. Register at the bottom of the page for the Zoom link.

Ann’s latest book Abalone explores the intimate connections between food and nature on California’s coast. “Through my research on wetlands and food history, I already knew that shellfish had played a significant role in culture, cuisine, and ecology in the past,” she said. “When I found a stunning abalone shell on a Big Sur beach, it led me to discover a rich and remarkable history that spans more than 13,000 years. I unearthed colorful, joyful, and painful stories that speak directly to hard questions we face in this age of extinctions — how we can let animals we cherish become so imperiled? And how can we bring them back?”