Human Journey

Sea Otters Slow Comeback May Be Tied to “Dietary Guilds”

A sea otter rests on his back as the waters of the Pacific swell beneath him. The California sea otters (Ehydra lutris) moor themselves by wrapping strands of brown kelp around their bodies. Photo by Bates Littlehales, NGS.

California sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction until a treaty in 1911 banned the fur trade. Since then, the animals have made only a modest comeback, and one scientist thinks it may be due to specialized diets followed by different groups of otters.

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