Posted by Steve Shimek on March 14, 2005 at 21:42:49:
In Reply to: Re: No flames, but please answer some questions posted by seahunt on March 14, 2005 at 20:55:16:
Well, this is about what I expected.
I respect your point of view. Again, I just have a different view. Otters bring about huge change, no question about it.
The comments above talk about the kelp being too thick to see through. Well, that is kind of the point. Otters were hunted to near extinction by the mid 1800s. Because the major predator of herbivores was removed (the otters), the system shifted to one favoring animal biomass (urchins and abs). Fisheries, both sport and commercial, developed around that buildup of biomass. Did you know that recent research has shown that some of those urchins are 100 years old?
Now, otters are returning and the system is shifting back to one where much of the biomass is algal. Sea otters bring change. Change is difficult for fisheries -- and some people -- to adjust to.
I was certified in 1964 -- when they were still teaching double-hose in additition to single-hose. You may not know what I mean. Back then, a club activity was to go out and hammer urchins so that the kelp would grow back. KelpCo (I think it was), actually distributed a 'how to' film to diving clubs. Now, otters do what KelpCo was asking divers to do.
What do otters offer? They bring about increased primary productivity (conversion of sunlight to life) and a dramatic increase in biodiversity. My value system holds these two attributes in very high regard. I would like to suggest that Wheeler's research is rather outdated these days -- kelp supports not only the fishes and invertebrates in the immediate vicinity, but recent research has shown that kelp supports deepwater fishes as well.
Yes, I have dove south of Carmel. I disagree with your assessment. It is some of the most fantasticly rich diving you will ever see.
And no, the abs at Hopkins are not blacks (although some are), but are reds, some of the largest you will ever see.
I guess I'm having a hard time acknowledging that otters, who lived in the system to begin with, overwhelm the system. They just don't. Nor are they pests. Or rats. They are more closely related to skunks actually! How can an animal that evolved with the system be destructive to that system? That just wouldn't work in evolutionary terms.
Sea otters certainly don't eat everything. They eat about 40-60 different species of invertebrates. They don't eat fishes (although they do in Alaska). They don't eat algae. And they don't eat hundreds of other invertebrate species.
And again, otters are not starving to death. VERY few otters show signs of emaciation at death. I would be happy to provide the literature. What they do die of is disease... and there I would suggest the culpit is biological and chemical pollution.
Again, from a hunter point of view, otters threaten you. From the point of view of healthy complete, productive, diverse ecosystems, otters serve an important function.
Please feel free to contact me. I am willing to come talk with any group. I have a really good PowerPoint presentation I give to civic groups.
Shouldn't we be talking about the common ground of water quality, offshore oil drilling, pesticides, and chemical contaminants?
There is much more info at www.otterproject.org.
Thank you for the lively discussion!
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