SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Sea Otters Part of Natural Balance
By Mike Moyer


September 03, 2009

In a recent article by Laine Welch on Sea Otters an attempt is made to vilify Sea Otters as pests of the sea. It should be noted that due to the unregulated over harvesting of these mammals what we now look at in Southeast Alaska as our view of a natural marine ecosystem is far from that. Sea Otters were part of the natural balance between the urchin populations which they feed upon, and the kelp forests which are fed upon by the urchins.

When urchin populations are allowed to flourish unchecked they devour kelp beds before they ever have a chance to become habitat for young herring and other fishes which require these areas for protection. We have no idea how large the kelp beds were in historic times but we do know that herring and other fish populations have a difficult time bouncing back after being hit hard by other factors. If urchin populations were kept in check this would help the herring and in turn produce more feed for salmon and other fishes. Kelp forests in turn help to provide cover for other invertebrates such as Abalone. A balanced marine ecosystem is healthier and more able to withstand negative impacts than a system that is missing one of its key members.

Mike Moyer
Ketchikan, AK

Received September 02, 2009 - Published September 03, 2009



Danger posed to fisheries in Southeast by sea otters By LAINE WELCH - Several things pose dangers to various fisheries in Alaska, but there is one big threat in the Panhandle that is seldom mentioned: sea otters. - - More...
Monday - August 31, 2009

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