Sea otters (enhydra lutris) from the northern and southern populations may find each other in Humboldt County, California

Maximilian L. Allen, Shawn M. Crimmins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are an apex carnivore and a keystone species, whose range contracted with population declines in last few centuries. But due to direct conservation efforts, both the northern sea otter (E. lutris kenyoni) and southern sea otter (E. lutris nereis) populations shown increases in the last few decades. The two populations are not connected, however, and southern sea otters in California are still threatened and endangered on the state level. The Humboldt County coast is situated between the southern sea otters in central California and the northern sea otters found between Oregon and Alaska. In 2015 a sea otter was seen in Humboldt Bay, the first sighting in Humboldt County since 2005. Although most sea otters found in Humboldt County are assumed to be from the southern sea otter population, genetic testing of a dead sea otter found in 2014 determined that it was from the northern sea otter population. The continued documentation of southern sea otters and the recent documentation of dead northern sea otter in Humboldt County suggests the Humboldt County coast may be an important area for linking the two populations in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-92
Number of pages5
JournalIUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
Volume36
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Keywords

  • California
  • Enhydra lutris
  • Humboldt County
  • Locality record
  • Population
  • Range expansion
  • Sea otter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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