The Most Important Animal

Well, it’s almost spring, and awards for the most important animal in the ocean are being given out again. And, the winner is: The sea otter! But of course, the sea otter wins every year.

First, Toola died. The surrogate sea otter mom from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sympathy Award.

Next, white sharks are munching more sea otters. That could cause the population to decline (again) and the sea otter will never be de-listed if this continues. Unforeseen Circumstances Award.

And, the government-created “Management Zone” is impeding recovery too. Predictable Circumstances Award.

Of course, all of this is silly. But, sea otters are big business. But, only for a few: the government scientists who dream up drivel, decade after decade, and for those who promote the drivel.

Gone are the days when families could go to the beach and dig up a sack of Pismo clams, or pick a few abalone. Gone too are the former local commercial fisheries for abalone, sea urchin, halibut, and white sea bass. These fisheries either saw resources depleted by sea otters or were banned due to interactions.

All of these fisheries, the jobs, taxes, and infrastructure have been given up in order to produce more sea otters. The problem now is the animals themselves: They eat too much. We now have a population of malnourished marine mammals.

Don’t fret, government biologists and environmentalists are on the case. But will their lining their own pockets actually save the sea otter? One thing for sure. Next year, there will be another hand-wringing award show for the most important animal in the sea. Stay tuned.

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