Speaker Series: “Sea otters – A very natural history”

Thursday, August 17th with Jane Watson, marine biologist

Sea otters, prized for their thick fur, were hunted to extinction in British Columbia in a commercial fur trade that started in the late 1700s and lasted until sea otters were protected in 1911. Otters were reintroduced to BC from 1969 to 1972 when 89 Alaskan sea otters were released off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island in a series of three translocations. Since their “repatriation”, the Canadian sea otter population has grown and spread; today there are over 5000 sea otters along the outer coast of BC and north end of Vancouver Island. The return of sea otters, which has resulted in dramatic changes to coastal ecosystems, has not been without controversy. Sea otters depend on a thick fur and a prodigious appetite to stay warm in their chilly ocean environment and it is these two features – their luxurious fur coats and enormous appetites – that have made sea otters both loved and hated. In this talk, we will explore the biology and ecology of this important and charismatic species– in what is truly a very natural history.

Jane Watson grew up on the BC coast, and knew from a very early age that she wanted to be marine biologist. She completed her B.Sc. at the University of British Columbia in 1981 and her Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1993. She recently retired from teaching biology at Vancouver Island University but remains active in research. She has spent more than 30 summers studying sea otters and kelp on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

This presentation is the final talk of the Summer 2017 Thursday Expert Speaker Series Schedule. Admission is $5.00 per person. Ages 16 and under attend free. The talk begins at 2:00 pm in the Community School Library (entrance through the Natural History Exhibit door).

Pictured above: Sea otter. Photo by Erin Rechsteiner

One Comment on “Speaker Series: “Sea otters – A very natural history”

  1. How exciting to have seen a river otter crossing the road at Phipps Point yesterday! I feel so lucky to have seen one in the wild!


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