The Otter - Everybody's favourite rodent

The Otter - Everybody's favourite rodent

The Otter

Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. Without sea otters, sea urchins can overpopulate the sea floor and devour the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other marine animals. By maintaining healthy kelp forests, sea otters also indirectly help to reduce levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a prevalent greenhouse gas, as kelp absorbs and sequesters carbon.

Hunted to near extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries, sea otters finally gained protections with the signing of the International Fur Seal Treaty of 1911. In the 1970s, they received additional safeguarding under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Worldwide, sea otters have slowly recovered but still stand far below their historical population numbers. While sea otters are vulnerable to natural environmental changes, their populations are significantly impacted by several human factors as well.

As a critical first responder to these threats, The Marine Mammal Center is leading the field in ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue, veterinary medicine, science, and education. Marine mammals are ecosystem indicators, and these animals provide insights into human and ocean health threats. Together, we are taking action today to support a network of scientists and stewards to protect our shared ocean environment for future generations.

No other organization in the world treats the extraordinary number and variety of marine mammal species and medical conditions that The Marine Mammal Center does with the goal of returning patients back to their ocean home.

Once a rescued marine mammal has been brought to one of our rehabilitation facilities, we provide the animal with medical attention and care during its recuperation period, thanks to support from kind people like you.

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