Lets get some facts here

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Posted by seahunt on December 15, 2002 at 06:08:49:

In Reply to: Seahunt, Steve, et al...Please take this in the spirit it was intended posted by msblucow on December 14, 2002 at 15:17:13:

Well, the spirit of the post seems chauvenistic, insulting, patronizing
and unsupported. Your final comment goes well beyond that.
I don't generally bring the otter issue up out of courtesy, but also
because it is a debate with people armed only with emotionalism, Politically
Correct pseudo-enviornmentalism and self rightousness. You know nothing
about what you are talking about, but you sure are confident you have
the answers. Notice that you use ridicule in your post, but no accurate
facts at all. You don't even attempt to support your position. You just
say it is so and by now we should have all learned to agree with
As far as the spirit of this reply, it's weariness and insignificant
concern compared with my real concerns about the ecology. I still say
that basically all Florida coral will be dead in 10 years and even that's
not what scares me. What will happen in California is far less
Yes, in 3 years my position has not changed, nor in the 30 years since
I studied intertidal ecology at the UC and first went diving with otters,
something I hear is rather unusual when they are feeding.
So in those 3 years I suspect that you've learned nothing new about real
ecology, paleo-ecology or history. You certainly got the history wrong.
>Presumably there was enough shellfish for the otters, humans, sheephead,
>octopus and other hunters to live off of.
That's a whopper of a presumption. It's the only possible fact you offer to
support your position and it's wrong.
No, that is a quite incorrect myth that has been cleared up. The abalone
shells in the Native American middens supposedly showed that the otters
left some for humans. Closer inspection showed that the shells were actually
from after the otters were wiped out. In the middens before that though,
there were the remains of the otters that the natives ate.
Note that there are almost no Sheephead in the Morro Bay area either. I've
only seen one. They cannot compete with the otters.
Another more obscure point is that the otters are an anomoly on the reefs.
If you know something about invertebrate zoology, you would be aware that
the reef invertebrates are really rather relic species from before the great
Permian Extinction. The otters evolved something like 200 or 300 million
years later. The reef life isn't and never was adapted to the otters. Also
considering the natural state of starvation in which otters live in and
other elements of otter ecology, I think it safe to say that they are only
marginally adapted to that ecology as well.
Well, you blew the history part. Lets try some ecology. Oh, you don't know
any ecology. Heck, you've never dove the otter areas south of Monterey,
now have you. You've never dove Point Sal, Pismo Beach, Montagne De Oro,
Point Buchon, Morro Bay, Cayucus or Big Sur. Hey, you don't know what you're
talking about. You haven't seen first hand what the results are. The otters
eat the abalone, scallops, clams, urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs, snails and
everything else they can. All of it, and then some things like starfish that
they cannot eat, but they are starving, so they eat it anyway. Do you know
what happens to otters when they eat purple urchins? No, and you don't care,
because that might be an inconvenient fact. It's a death sentence, but they
are starving and so that's how they finish it.
Now another little fact that you don't know about since this can only come from
one with experience diving in the otter areas. Some places, otters can make an
area almost undivable for humans. I've written about this in the Montagne De Oro
area, but seen it elsewhere. The kelp gets so thick on the surface and the bottom,
that you can't dive it. If there is macrocystis on top. It gets so thick that you
can see almost nothing. If there is no kelp canopy, the bottom growth gets so
thick that you cannot find the bottom. You can feel it and know it's there,
but you cannot see it in any way. You have to look for boundary areas where the
light allows diving, but limits kelp growth. Unless you have seen this, it is
hard to comprehend, but it is vey real. It seems that Monterey is far enough
north that this doesn't happen there. I would expect it to be much worse in
Southern California.
Now for the factually challenged, may I paste your comment...
>So here we are now. Blaming about 2,300 sea otters for the decline of
>Western Civilization as we know it. Gee I guess the 30 million people
>living in California, most within 10 miles of the ocean have NOTHING to
>do with it. I guess it's the sea otters, with their fantastically high
>metabolisms, that have extracted millions of tons of shellfish from coastal
>waters for the last 30 years or so. Yeah, that's it! Get rid of those cute
>little water rats and they'll be plenty left over for the rest of us!
Well, ignoring the histrionics, yes. The Morro Bay abalone population (urchins
as well) was quite healthy and productive after many years of commercial and
sport harvesting. The otters came and that was all gone. Healthy for humans.
Gone from otters. Oh, but you don't know the history, you've never dove there
and facts would be so inconvenient wouldn't they.
Remember, though Southern California has been overharvested, abalone, etc.
were common down here long after the otters had wiped everything out in the
Central Coast.
See, you're in your little world of diving Catalina, the most heavily diver
impacted area there is in California and you see what humans have done.
Somehow, without ever diving an otter area, you seem to assume, quite
pseudo-environmentally, that otters have to be less damaging. Well go look
for yourself. There is no comparisson between humans and otters. Otters are
far more damaging than humans are capable of being (short of pollution).
(No, I take that back. Look at the Coronodos.)
Either otters can hunt or humans can hunt. Not both. Otters do not leave
anything behind, not even for the sheepheads. Humans do and can easily make
laws to keep the populations far more healthy than they have even been in
the past. Otters do not have size or bag limits.
I've written about how the urchins at the Channel Islands were so common that
they were like leaves fallen from trees. There has been such a huge urchin
harvest that I have seen a radical change over the years. Still, it's easy to
find oodles of urchins here. Not in the otter areas though. They're
The last point for all of you. It is either humans or otters that will hunt
the reefs. That is a fact and its consequences are predictable. The reef is
healthier with human impact than otter. Still, you can decide which you prefer
based on some personal preference. But have any of you dove the otter areas
south of Monterey? Do you know the reef ecology? Do you know what you are
talking about? It sure doesn't look like from the posts.
If you looked at the facts and you knew from your research that the otters
impacted and area far more damagingly than humans, would you care? Don't take
my word for it. Look at the research data accumulated on the Rocky Danials
web site. The studies and pictures are all there.
Marta, you haven't even seen what the otters do. Since you don't base your post
on any facts, historical or natural, I have to seriously wonder where you even
get your opinions from. I don't raise this discussion, because I use facts,
something you care nothing about any more than I care about your emotional based
wishful thinking.
On my web site is the makings of one of the more ambitious ecological analysis'
ever attempted. I'm sort of stuck with facts.
How can someone that doesn't present any accurate facts or evidence to support
their opinion get off talking about anyone elses ignorance. Well, if you have no
facts to work with, I guess you just use the Politically Correct strategy of
personal attack.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt
PS. Do you remember the last time you posted about otters? I, as usual, presented
the facts. Your response was "How can I argue with that". Well, you still can't.
This is such a waste of time.

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