No flames, but please answer some questions


Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by seahunt on March 14, 2005 at 19:08:13:

In Reply to: Re: Sea Otter at PV posted by Steve Shimek on March 14, 2005 at 12:08:30:

I'm not going to flame you, but I would really like a few questions answered.
Start with a general, but important question. Who is this good for? There are plenty who will chime in and say who it is bad for, but who is this good for?
Please, don't tell me this is good for the environment. There is no way that you can describe those little furry pests as anything but gastric motivated ecological disasters. The eat everything but the sponges, anemones, starfish and a few other things.
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Tell me, do humans compare to an otter in destructiveness of animal biomass? You can compare any heavily dove area to any otter area.
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Please don't tell me its good for the kelp. The kelp is quite healthy. Most places, it is thick in summer and thins some after storms. Admittedly the otters might actually make a difference at PV and some rather localized urchin barrens at the islands, but generally, the kelp is pretty healthy. Also, according to Wheeler J. North, Kelp is surprisingly unimportant to the nearshore reef ecology. Relitively few species use it. What counts most is the hiding places available in the rocks. Microtopographical variation (MTB). This means the fishermen will get minimal benefit either.
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For divers, there will often be a drawback from the thicker kelp. Otter areas are usually very uninteresting and can actually be hard to dive. If there is an upper canopy, the bottom can get so dark that it is like a desert and quite hard to get through or see anything. If for some reason there is no upper canopy it is worse. The bottom kelp gets so impenetrably thick that you can see nothing. It is like flying over a forest on land. You can see the plant tops and nothing else. Go between them and there is just more plant. You try to dive in areas between the light and dark.
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>Otters do not constantly live near starvation. That is just a false statement.
OK. Only much of the year then. Is it not true that most otter mortality in winter shows that they characteristically starved to death. If food competition was not so intense, why would they resort to kidnapping to acquire food. Why is it that behind any protected area of the otter coast are there piles of tiny mullosk shells, but no big ones. Is it that the otters ate all the food when it was tiny? By the way, the researchers say you are wrong on that one.
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>Otters do not totally eliminate urchins and abalone. In fact, there is a high density of urchins and abs off Hopkins Marine Station where otters have been for over 20 years.
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Talk about misleading, I don't think that is true anymore anyway. What are you calling a lot? There are an unusual number of very deep shelves in that area and there are a few urchins and abalone in them, but that place is an exception to the rule as far as normal underwater topography. Also since they were black abalone, they probably died of disease. No where else in my (admittedly few ~20) dives in Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur, did I see any abalone. Also, in my many many dives from Point Buchon to Peidras Blancas, I only saw perhaps 5 abalone and I am a very good spotter of them. Urchin and scallop is about as rare.
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>I certainly do respect the point of view of urchin and recreational harvesters.
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No you don't. There are no harvesters that can compete with otters. They have no take limit and their size limit is way under yours. In any case, there is no possibility of a commercial or recreational fishery for abalone, urchin, clam, scallop in current otter areas, so I expect none in Southern California either. Do you disagree? Please explain how it could possibly happen. I expect the lobsters will get hit pretty hard, but that is currently unknown.
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Look at it another way. The intertidal ecology is basically a relic of the pleiocene (sp) epoch before the first of the last two great extinctions on earth. In their hundreds of millions of history, these ancient species never have had a predator like the mammalian otters. They are not adapted to them either. Well, maybe don't look at it that way.
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I am an environmentalist in terms of that I do not think humans will survive without keeping the environment healthy. I do not see otters as anything but an environmental disaster and a pest.
Oh, they are cute and furry. Cute and furry ecological disasters.
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So tell me. What is the upside of the otters presence? The downside is horrible.
Enjoy







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