Paul Wellman (file)

Sea Otter Numbers Up

But Worries Persist for Threatened Marine Mammal Species

Sea otter advocates smiled — but just a little bit — this week with the release of the U.S. Geological Survey’s spring count, which showed a 5.1 percent boost in individual otters from the 2010 count and a 1.5 percent increase in the more important three-year average. The count, which included the third highest pup tally on record, was highly anticipated because the 2011 count was scrapped due to bad weather.

While the numbers are encouraging for the long struggling species, conservationists expressed only “cautious” optimism, as 2011 saw more than 10 percent of the species found dead, many the victim of white shark attacks.

“Seeing an upward tick is better news than a downward tick,” said Jim Curland, advocacy program director with Friends of the Sea Otter. “But the recovery is still slow, and last year was the highest mortality rate on record.”

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