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Otters and the Kelp

Posted by Paxton Atlas | , United States

Dear Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory,

I am Paxton Atlas, a student at La Colina looking for a great ocean laboratory to help with a problem, so I came to you. As an ocean lover inspired by aquariums and animals around the world, I have seen what you are doing and I’m astounded by how much you are contributing to helping the ocean get back on its feet. Throughout all of your help, I have a concern right on our coasts. My concern is what is happening to our kelp forests along the coast of California. They have decreased significantly and even though places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium are releasing more and more otters, the kelp forests are still getting smaller and smaller.

This is a pressing issue that severely threatens our oceanic ecosystem and all creatures that live in the kelp. A good solution would be to introduce more otters into the environment and get a sustainable otter population to check the sea urchins. If we can get the balance just right, we might be able to restore the otter population from before the fur trade. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website, “The current southern sea otter averages around 3,000 individuals” (Monterey Bay Aquarium). That number is only a small fraction of the numbers before the fur trade. A temporary solution to the decline of otters is to have humans act as otters. Until we can get enough otters to restore the population, we can have humans hunt for sea urchins so they don’t overwhelm the kelp forests. Some fishermen want to have otters completely removed from the coast because they are eating the fish and sea animals they want to catch and without otters they would have a bigger population of fish, but the elimination of otters entirely would greatly hurt our ocean's ecosystem. The southern sea otter is a keystone species in our ocean, and getting rid of them would be greatly injuring our ocean and all the life in it.

If we start introducing otters now, we will be able to have a thriving population of southern sea otters later. Not only will this create a thriving and stable ocean for future generations, but also it will allow the sea otter to be taken off the endangered species list. The sooner we get our home planet stable, the sooner we can look around and see the beauty we have created. Thank you for creating an amazing platform where many can submit ideas and help the ocean. I hope that our ocean can be repaired and stable soon. Again, thank you for all you do for the world.

Your ocean friend,
Paxton Atlas

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