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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Oregon Wild: Sea Otter Reintroduction Efforts on the Oregon Coast-Part 2 (2/2/22)

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Join the Elakha Alliance
as we present with Oregon Wild

The Elakha Alliance is pleased to be the guest presenter for the Oregon Wild as we take a deep dive into our sea otter Feasibility Study.

Introducing part 2 of Oregon Wild’s sea otter webinar series. If you love these charismatic animals then this is the webinar for you! Sea otters were once present along the Oregon coast for 10,000+ years before the fateful arrival of European fur traders and settlers. The absence of this species is still felt to this day, not only by tribes who had a connection to the species since time immemorial, but also by the entire coastal ecosystem that has since been thrown off balance. However, at long last there is hope for the return of this beloved, fuzzy mammal! 

On February 2nd, a guest from the Elakha Alliance will teach everyone about the sea otter Feasibility Study, the most important guiding document for reintroducing sea otters to the Oregon coast. You’ll get the chance to learn about topics varying from habitat suitability and ecosystem effects of sea otters, to political, legal, economic, and social considerations for successful reintroduction. Hope to see you then!

If you missed our first installment of the series you can view a recording here

Oregon Wild will be raffling off a copy of Oregon’s Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide, a solar USB charger, an Oregon Wild hat, or a “Wild: The Oregon Way” t-shirt! Tickets are $5 and are an optional purchase by clicking the link below. Raffle tickets not only help Oregon Wild continue these Wednesday presentations but also support our work safeguarding Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife, and waters. 

This webinar will take place on Wednesday February 2nd, 2022 at 6:00pm PDT. Register below.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Holiday Otter Wrap Up Party (12/16/21)

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Don’t Miss This Otterly Great End of the Year Party!

Join Bob Bailey (Elakha Board President) & Chanel Hason (Dir. of Outreach & Community Relations) for a night of light-hearted virtual holiday fun! We will be highlighting our accomplishments of 2021, while sharing our future endeavors for 2022. Feel free to sport your favorite ugly sweater, pour yourself a festive libation, and learn what our next big goals are for the future of sea otter relocation in Oregon. BONUS – don’t be surprised if we give away fun prizes throughout the evening!

This webinar will take place for free on Wednesday December 16th, at 6:00pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.

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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

Support Sea Otters for GivingTuesday

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#GivingTuesday is a great movement that was started in 2012 by smart and socially conscious people with the purpose of encouraging others to give back their time and donation dollars to worthy charities — all in the midst of the busy holiday shopping season.

The Elakha Alliance is launching a #GivingTuesday ‘Double your Donation‘ fundraiser for the next 6 days. If we collectively raise $3,000 in merchandise sales and/or direct donations from Nov 30th-Dec 5th, a private donor will match it for a grand total $6,000! With every purchase, the Elakha Alliance will be able to further our research and community outreach towards relocating sea otters back to the Oregon coast.

Will you help us reach our goal of selling 300 shirts?
We have a variety of color & sizing options!

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Nature Night: Restoring Sea Otters to the Oregon Coast: An Ecological and Cultural Imperative (11/9/21)

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Join the Elakha Alliance
with the Portland Audubon Society

The Elakha Alliance is pleased to be the guest presenter for the Portland Audubon’s Nature Night series. Join Bob Bailey, Board President, and Peter Hatch, Board Member, as they discuss the cultural and ecological importance of sea otter reintroduction in Oregon.

Florian Graner

Sea otters were once common along the Oregon coast, a protector of the rich biological productivity of ocean waters and a meaningful element in the culture of coastal Indian people.  Their dense, lush fur made them the target of commercial hunting and by the late 1800s, they were mostly gone from their former range from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California, including Oregon.

A few remnant colonies survived the fur trade hunting, providing the basis for today’s sea otter population in much of their former range.  However, sea otters remain absent in Oregon, an absence that has had unforeseen consequences for Oregon’s nearshore kelp forests.  The Elakha Alliance, an Oregon non-profit organization, seeks to return these essential keystone predators to their former homes and thereby restore the ecological productivity of the nearshore marine ecosystem and restore the ancient cultural connection between coastal Indian people and sea otters.  For an in-depth review of the historical, ecological, and cultural context for the Elakha Alliance and its work see this article in Open Spaces magazine.

This webinar will take place on Tuesday November 9th, at 7:00pm PDT. Register below

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Webinar: Birds & Kelp (10/21/21)

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Learn About The Interconnectedness
of Birds & the Oregon Coast

Kelp beds are biologically rich marine habitats supporting a diversity of invertebrates and fish.  Less well known is the use of these habitats by some species of birds.  Benefits to birds continue even after kelp becomes dislodged and washes ashore.  Local photographer Roy Lowe will discuss some of the species you might see using kelp beds in Oregon.

This webinar will take place for free on Thursday October 21st, at 6:30pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.

A pelagic cormorant in breeding plumage taken by Roy Lowe.

About The Guest Presenter: Roy Lowe

A resident of Waldport, Oregon, Roy Lowe is a photographer and former board member of the Elakha Alliance.  He was employed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 37 years and was the Project Leader for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex upon his retirement in 2015.

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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

2021 Sea Otter Science Symposium (Oct 5-7)

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

From Tuesday October 5-7, 2021, the Elakha Alliance will host our second ever Virtual Sea Otter Science Symposium.

This year, our focus will strongly revolve around the key findings of our scientific Feasibility Study Draft on sea otter relocations to Oregon. We have an exceptional group of speakers this year, and we hope you tune in from where ever you are in the world, to learn from these intriguing presentations.

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

Tuesday October 5

Wednesday October 6

Thursday October 7

  • 1:30pm: Dr. Shawn Larson: Genetic considerations for translocation; conservation benefits
  • 2:00pm: Dr. Jan Hodder: Habitat suitability on Oregon coast
  • 2:30pm: Dr. Tim Tinker: ORSO – Oregon Sea Otter population model and recovery scenarios
  • 3:30pm: Q & A:   All presenters
  • 4:00pm: Adjourn

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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Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Renee Davis & Katie Russell Join the Elakha Alliance Board

In September, the Elakha Alliance was pleased to welcome two new Board Members. Both Renee Davis and Katie Russell have a wealth of individual knowledge and experience in the marine conservation field. Please join us in giving them a warm welcome!

Renee Davis.

Renee Davis has worked on conservation issues in Oregon for nearly 25 years. Her career experience includes marine conservation science and policy issues, change impacts on natural systems, and ecosystem services. Until recently, Renee served as deputy director with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. She recently transitioned her focus to post-wildfire recovery and Klamath Basin issues. During her free time, Renee enjoys hiking, birding, paddling, and being immersed in Oregon’s wild places.

Katie Russell.

Katie Russell is a graduate student pursing her Masters of Environmental Studies, with a focus on education and nonprofit management, at the University of Oregon. After graduating with her Bachelor’s in Natural Science from Loyola Marymount University in 2012, she has been working in the field of animal care and training in Hawaii. She is passionate about conservation and climate change education and currently serves as the board secretary for The National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpreters.

(Header Photo: Morgan Rector)

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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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Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Jacobsen Salt Co. Honors Sea Otters for 10 Yr Anniversary

To honor the Oregon waters that Jacobsen Salt Co. has hand-harvested sea salt for a decade, they partnered with the Elakha Alliance to help raise awareness and funds for our mission to restore Oregon’s population of sea otters and strengthen our local marine ecosystem.

For every specialty Sea Otter Slide Tin sold, Jacobsen will be donating all profits to support the Elakha Alliance. We are extremely honored and thrilled to be a part of their 10 year anniversary celebration, and we encourage you to order these limited edition Sea Otter Slide Tins (they make great gifts)!

Founded in 2011, Jacobsen Salt Co. is the first company to harvest salt in the Pacific Northwest since the 1800s. Since then it has transformed from a local, small business to a nationally recognized brand as America’s leading salt maker. Harvested from the cold, pristine waters of Netarts Bay on the Oregon Coast, their flake and kosher sea salts have garnered worldwide favor for their beautiful presentation and pure taste by professional chefs and home cooks alike.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Webinar: Pacific NW River Otter: Habitat, Ecology, and Health (7/26/21)

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Everything You Wanted To Know About River Otters

Photo: Heide Island

Most often than not, people mistake thinking they’ve witnessed a ‘sea otter’ on the Oregon coast, when in fact it’s actually a North American river otter. This is why we found it very important to invite Dr. Heide Island to speak about these unique creatures that she’s spent multiple years researching in the PNW. She will touch upon how rescued, captive river otters are informing the ecological and physiological wellness of native otter populations in the Pacific Northwest.

This webinar will take place for free on Monday July 26th, at 6:00pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.

Heide D Island received her doctorate in Experimental Psychology with specializations in Comparative Animal Behavior and Behavioral Neuroscience at The University of Montana in 2003. Island came to academics after working in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry alongside her father and as a research naturalist for Pacific Whale Foundation in Hawai’i. Given a background in marine science, ethology, and behavioral neuroscience, she has cultivated broad research interests which include: 1.) Behavioral ecology, especially related to optimal foraging and choice theory; 2.) Animal welfare, principally as it pertains to animal rehabilitation, conservation, and captivity wellness; and 3.) Comparative psychology of anxiety, depression, and boredom as its expressed among human and nonhuman animals.

Photo: Charles Biles

Dr. Island is a Professor of Comparative Animal Behavior and Neuroscience at Pacific University in Oregon and a Senior Research Associate for the Oregon Zoo. She is the Principal
Investigator in a 4-year longitudinal study of Whidbey Island’s North American river otters. Her interests concern the welfare of captive and wild otter populations found in the Pacific Northwest (North American River Otter and Sea Otters). Among rescued and captive populations, Dr. Island is interested in the development of social learning, outlets for natural foraging, and psychological welfare. Among wild otters, her work focuses specifically on Island County marine-foraging river otters, their distribution, diet, foraging patch variability between fresh (e.g., Lake Pondilla, Admirals Lake, Lake Crockett, etc.) and saltwater (e.g., Admiralty Bay, Bush Point, Bell’s Beach, etc.), photoidentification of individual animals, and their genetic pedigrees, as well as their load of persistent organopollutants, collected through non-invasive and salvage sampling. The latter is particularly relevant for understanding the health of the local ecology.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Crabinar: Will Sea Otters Take a Bite Out of Dungeness? (7/8/21)

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Let’s Talk Crab

Photo: Oregon Coast Aquarium

Dungeness crab are an iconic marine shellfish of great economic and cultural importance to Oregon’s coastal communities and way of life.  The Elakha Alliance is keenly interested in avoiding or minimizing potential conflicts with Dungeness crab harvest when sea otters are returned to their former homes on the Oregon coast.  This “Crabinar” will explore what we know about the effect of sea otters on commercial Dungeness crab harvest elsewhere, the potential for conflicts in Oregon and possible actions that can help to reduce  or avoid conflicts.  The Crabinar will feature a state-of-the art population model used to predict the location and numbers of sea otters in Oregon in the years following restoration. 

This webinar will take place for free on Thursday July 8th, at 7:00pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.

Guest Speakers

  • Dr. Alan Shanks, University of Oregon Institute for Marine Biology: life-history and population dynamics of Dungeness crab in Oregon.
  • Tracy Grimes, M.S., San Diego State University: effect of sea otters in California on Dungeness crab catches and effect on young crab in estuaries.
  • Dr. Ginny Eckert, Director, Alaska Sea Grant Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks: effects of an expanding population of sea otters in SE Alaska on Dungeness crab and other shellfisheries.
  • Dr. Tim Tinker, University of California Santa Cruz and lead author of a feasibility study of restoring sea otters to Oregon: considerations of Dungeness crab in the Oregon Feasibility Study, Oregon Sea Otter Population Model and four “what-if” scenarios for possible sea otter populations in 30 years.
  • Shannon Davis, Principal with The Resources Group Economist: potential impacts of sea otters on Oregon Dungeness crab harvest as forecast by four “what-if” scenarios for future sea otter populations.
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Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Aquarium Grant Opens Doors for Marine Rehabilitation Center

Congratulations are in order to the Oregon Coast Aquarium who was the recipient of a $5 million dollar grant from the Roundhouse Foundation.

The Roundhouse Foundation is located in Sisters, Oregon, and supports solutions to the challenges associated with rural culture and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Their primary areas of focus include arts and culture, environmental stewardship, and social services and education. The Roundhouse Foundation values opportunities that work at the intersections of these areas.

Courtesy of the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The majority of this significant grant (~$4 million) will be dedicated to the creation of a brand new Marine Rehabilitation Center. We spoke to Jim Burke, the Director of Animal Husbandry for the Oregon Coast Aquarium, regarding this exciting new development. Burke also sits on the Elakha Alliance’s Science and Technological Committee.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is the only location in the state of Oregon, authorized to provide critical care to endangered marine wildlife like sea turtles, northern fur seals, and snowy plovers. Although the aquarium has helped rehabilitate sea birds (200-300/year) and stranded marine mammals in the past, this new facility would play a crucial role in assisting a significantly larger variety and overall number of animals. Burke stated that this new facility would include a warm water section for sea turtles, a bird rehab area, and the largest competent will be dedicated to the rehabilitation of marine mammals.

If/when sea otter reintroduction does occur in Oregon, the Oregon Coast Aquarium would play a crucial role, specifically as the only local state facility to admit an injured or sick sea otter for rehabilitation/release. The last time the Oregon Coast Aquarium received a wild beached sea otter was 12 years ago, and unfortunately due to health complications, it did not survive. Although the estimated completion of the new rehabilitation center won’t be for another 2 years, Burke and his team at the aquarium are looking forward to helping the Elakha Alliance’s reintroduction efforts in a variety of other ways. This includes research, relocation scouting, permitting, and lending boats/divers for various tasks.

Overall, we at the Elakha Alliance look forward to further collaboration with the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Stay tuned for further developments!

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Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Preserving Kelp Oases: Elakha Partnering on a North Coast Project

Even with a successful translocation of sea otters in Oregon, sea otter population growth and dispersal takes time. If an initial reintroduction occurs on the south coast where most of the best habitat occurs, it may take many decades for a viable sub-population of sea otters to become established further north. There is a chance that trends in kelp declines and spreading urchin barrens will not continue, but what if they do?

In 2020, the Oregon Kelp Alliance (ORKA) launched a pilot project using scientific divers to experimentally remove purple sea urchins to protect specific “kelp oases”. To incentivize long-term removals, ORKA is working with partners to develop a new market for purple sea urchin “uni”. The Elakha Alliance is partnering with ORKA and with David and Talya Semrad from the Oregon Freediving Company to help coordinate a possible second location here on the north coast!  We are submitting a permit application for sea urchin harvest to ODFW soon, and hoping to be in the water this season! We think this effort will not only provide valuable insights into urchin management, but help engage the more divers and freedivers in kelp conservation. More to come soon.

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Events Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Webinar: Legal and Economic Dimensions of Sea Otter Reintroduction

Species re-introductions involve complex biological, legal, and social consideration for agencies, scientists, stakeholders, and communities. However, evaluating a species associated with effects on economically valuable resources, makes assessments and input all-the-more important.

Please join Elakha Board President Bob Bailey and USFWS biologist Michele Zwartjes, on August 26th at 6pm, for a webinar presentation designed to explore the legal, scientific, and social framework of sea otter reintroduction; where things stand now, and what are the next steps? Register soon!

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Science and Conservation of Sea Otters

Elakha Alliance in the News!

Northwest News reporter, and regular OPB contributor, Tom Banse, chats with the Elakha Alliance’s leadership about new research coming out of British Columbia. Economists and social scientists studied the effects of sea otter population growth on human communities, with some interesting implications for Oregon. Read the full story….

A sea otter in the waters off Vancouver Island