Letters to the Editor

Sea life needs predators, such as otters, to thrive

It is a common misconception, Mike Stiles writes, that predators, such as sea otters, are bad for the ecosystem, when, in fact, the opposite is true.
It is a common misconception, Mike Stiles writes, that predators, such as sea otters, are bad for the ecosystem, when, in fact, the opposite is true. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I’m afraid Mark Hamerdinger (Letters, “Desperate need for sea urchins, abalone and clams in SLO County waters,” July 17) has his biology a tad backward regarding the otter-urchin-kelp relationship.

The otters don’t decimate the kelp forests as he claims. It is the urchins that graze on the kelp. And they will continue to do so until there is no more kelp and then move on. Without otters, we would have what is called an “urchin barren” off our coast.

It is a common misconception that predators are bad for the ecosystem, when, in fact, the opposite is true. The Yellowstone ecosystem benefited greatly with the reintroduction of wolves, as the kelp forests benefit from the otters.

Mike Stiles, Los Osos

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