Researchers Focus on Sea Otter Deaths

Photos courtesy of Jeff Foott In trouble? The sea otter is dying, from parasitic diseases for which the only known hosts are terrestrial mammals. Something is killing sea otters that live along the northern California shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 1,000 have been found dead along the coastline over the past five years. Given that the total otter population at any one time is probably well below 3,000 animals, this appears to be a high rate of mortality, especially considering that as m

A. J. S. Rayl
Feb 18, 2001

Photos courtesy of Jeff Foott





In trouble? The sea otter is dying, from parasitic diseases for which the only known hosts are terrestrial mammals.
Something is killing sea otters that live along the northern California shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 1,000 have been found dead along the coastline over the past five years. Given that the total otter population at any one time is probably well below 3,000 animals, this appears to be a high rate of mortality, especially considering that as many as half of the otters that die are probably never recovered. Veterinary pathologists, in their ongoing research, are finding that some of these marine mammals are dying from parasitic diseases for which the only known egg-shedding or definitive hosts are terrestrial mammals. They cannot yet say with absolute certainty, but they suspect the parasites may be coming through sewage or terrestrial animal waste streaming into their...

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