Letter to the Editor

Otterly credible

San Luis ObispoOctober 3, 2012 

For whatever reason, Dr. John Menke chose to make his Sept. 28 letter about sea otters personal, attacking my credibility, and not addressing all the issues of my Sept. 21 letter.

I cited a published study by California Department of Fish and Game biologist Dan Miller, which wrote that sea otters remove 90 percent of marine invertebrates in areas they dominate (CalCOFI 1980).

My kelp/sea urchin citation, in which I said that wind, waves, water temperature and turbidity have far more (greater than 90 percent) affect on kelp than sea urchins, is from Foster 1987.

I have been indirectly involved with sea otters since 1957 (55 years) and actively involved since 1980 (32 years). I have known Dr. James Estes (whom Menke recommends) for 30 years and have studied all sides.

Dr. Menke may not have been in our county when there was an abalone fishery.

Abalone landings averaged 2,000,000 per year at Morro Bay from 1916 to 1960 (Cox 1962), a very sustainable fishery. The fishery was precluded by sea otters.

The sea urchin fishery, one of California’s most lucrative, was founded in San Luis Obispo County and precluded by sea otters by 1976 (Gotshall 1984). Ditto the Pismo clam fishery (Wendell 1986).

As far as I know, Dr. Menke has never been part of this debate. Readers should know there are many more sea otter scientists than just Dr. Estes.

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