Letters to the Editor

Letter: Article otterly wrong

The Sept. 19 Santa Cruz Sentinel article, “Otters help beat the heat,” is sheer fantasy.

“If otters covered the globe ...” — well, thankfully, they do not.

Sea otters in California have been documented to remove 90 percent of marine invertebrates in areas they dominate. These invertebrates spawn and provide food for other creatures. Without invertebrates, most of the inshore food web collapses. This would be a tragedy for world fisheries, birds and other animals. It is also bad for sea otters, since malnutrition is a leading cause of mortality.

Although the enhancement of kelp by sea otters sounds good, it has yet to be proven in California. In fact, the best published studies on this subject found that wind, waves, water temperature and turbidity (clarity) have far more (greater than 90 percent) affect on kelp than sea urchins (less than 10 percent), deforestation by sea urchins being the exception.

Until the published literature changes, sea otters in California do not enhance kelp. This so-called “science” is just silly.

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