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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Learn the history of Seaweeds & Kelp of the Pacific Coast
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
Using Creative Storytelling To Showcase Kelp Forests
Three researchers from interdisciplinary fields of geography, photography, and design advocate for the prosperity of Pacific kelp forests in a webinar hosted by the Elakha Alliance. Kyle Cavanaugh, Patrick Webster, and Emma Akmakdjian discuss the role of perspective in creating stories that spotlight the kelp forests’ return to ecosystem balance, especially with the reintroduction of sea otters.
Kyle Cavanaugh is an Assistant Professor of Geography at UCLA who helped lead the project Floating Forests that uses NASA satellite imagery and UAV technology to map the density and dispersal of kelp forests worldwide. He studies the drivers and consequences of changes in coastal foundation species such as giant kelp forests and mangroves. He is especially interested in what controls large-scale changes in the distribution and abundance of these species. Much of his research utilizes remote sensing (e.g. satellite, aerial, and UAV imagery) to document ecological change over large space and time scales. Visit Kelpwatch to learn more about his most recent kelp research with The Nature Conservancy, UCLA, and UCSB.
Patrick Webster is an underwater photographer based in Monterey, California, capturing imagery of the central coast kelp forests and their inhabitants. He is the social media content creator for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Emma Akmakdjian is a graduate student and artist at the Design Media Arts Department at UCLA, working to communicate the importance of kelp forests in human and non-human cultures.
This webinar will take place for free on Tuesday July 20th, at 6:00pm PDT. Register below for the Zoom link.
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.
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.
This event is hosted by the Coos History Museum on June 1st, 2021 at 6:30pm PST on Zoom. Click here to register for this free event.
“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? Peter Hatch from the Elakha Alliance and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz will discuss the history and possible future of sea otters in Oregon.”
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?”
Brent Durand is an avid scuba diver, surfer, writer, photographer and marketer living in Northern California. He has been scuba diving for nearly 25 years and shooting underwater photos for 10 years. The Elakha Alliance is thrilled to invite Brent to present on underwater photography best practices and to share his firsthand experiences diving within various kelp forest ecosystems.
Brent’s work is published in print worldwide, in advertising, and across the web. And while he has hosted photo workshops in many exotic locations around the globe, the vast majority of his diving is in the kelp forests at home. Brent has spent years documenting the kelp forest ecosystem, its inhabitants, and dive adventures from the shore, kayaks and even stand up paddle boards. Learn more and view his photos at BrentDurand.com.
The Plight of Oregon’s Kelp Ecosystem, Sea Otters, and our Plan
Join Board President Bob Bailey and Director of Outreach John Goodell for an introductory webinar about the Elakha Alliance. We will discuss the origins of the Elakha Alliance, conservation issues surrounding the kelp ecosystem, and why sea otter reintroduction may be an important conservation tool. December 17th at 7:00pm