The readers of Steven Rebuck’s letter (Sept. 21, “Article otterly wrong”) were very perceptive if they concluded that his statements about sea otters were outrageous. He identifies himself as a technical consultant for the Southern Sea Otter Recovery Team. He did not disclose that technical consultants represent stakeholders (he represents the California Abalone Association) who are rarely scientists with a deep knowledge about communities of marine organisms.
Mr. Rebuck states that sea otters can devastate the community of animals in and near a kelp forest. As a retired teacher/ professor of marine ecology, I know that sea otters do not simultaneously devastate regional populations of crabs, abalones, snails, sea urchins, mussels, clams and other invertebrates. If they had, sea otters would not have survived on Earth for millions of years. The reality is that throughout the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the kelp forests, along with its sea otters, are composed of a very robust and healthy assemblage of species.
For readers who would like to learn what is known about the relationship of sea otters to the kelp forest community of algae and animals, please read articles by scientists, such as Dr. James Estes (of USGS, UC Santa Cruz), who have gathered data on that subject for many decades.