The return of sea otters seems to benefit a range of animals, small and big. ’s engineering impacts are going to be on seagrass beds,” says Margot Hessing-Lewis. We were treated to a family of six river otters in the bay just off Second Beach in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Unlike the shallow-diving ducks, otters can dive down more than 20 metres to retrieve sea urchins and other invertebrates off the seafloor. Because urchins are very nutritious, it helps the birds make it through the winter. Because urchins are very nutritious, it helps the birds make it through the winter. Kelp forests provide cover and food for many invertebrates and fish, help reduce coastal erosion and capture carbon. Rechsteiner fondly remembers once seeing 50 male otters getting blown into a small cove during a winter storm on the central coast. Earlier today, the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal trainers held a “snow enrichment session” with their six rescued sea otters: Tanu, Katmai, Mak, Kunik, Rialto, and Hardy. Virtually the entire sea otter range is contained within the boundaries of Olympic National Park and, for the most part, can only be accessed by hiking from one to several miles. The Vancouver Aquarium has just dropped what might be the cutest video of the season: an adorable group of sea otters playing in the fresh snowfall. Sign up for our newsletter to get exclusive content, contests, and perks direct to you. The marine mammal trainers managed to capture some footage of the six sea otters playing in the snow, and well… you should just watch for yourself. Martone showed that the potential revenue to tourism operators would change by several million dollars based on changes in sea otter abundance. In Alaska, some places are not as accessible for viewing sea otters as in California, but for all three stocks in Alaska, there are places to view sea otters. One night in early July, a woman in the Vancouver Island village of Kyuquot heard the cries of an animal in distress through the darkness from the … Get up close with the six rescued sea otters during a sea otter encounter. Sea otters were locally extinct in British Columbian waters in Canada, until a plane containing a romp of otters arrived and set off a population boom – with unintended consequences. “The jury is still out as what the sea. “It seems there is much more beach-cast kelp in areas with sea otters,” says. She suspects that kelp that wash up on the shoreline may feed the terrestrial ecosystem and the small animals that live on land, but more research needs to be done to test this assumption. In Washington, sea otter spotting is difficult at best. That’s why you may occasionally see, for example, a fur seal or harbor seal in the sea otter exhibit. West Coast Expeditions offers a variety of sea kayaking tours from Spring Island – including a five-day sea otter kayaking expedition. Experience Adventure. Visitors at the Aquarium can get to know the six rescued animals and their stories during daily sea otter talks. Hunted to extirpation by fur traders, sea otters were absent in British Columbia by the 1930s. Nuchatlitz is one of the few places in Canada where we can reliably view sea otters. On land, visitors may also notice beach-cast kelp, another potential sea otter effect. 29 photos of Vancouver under a fresh blanket of snow, Canucks trade draft pick to Rangers for goaltender Marek Mazanec, Justin Trudeau just visited Burnaby's La Forêt Bakery (PHOTOS). This morning, for example. During his tours, Pinel promotes cultural interactions between Kyuquot-Checleset First Nations members and tourists through a traditional salmon feast around an open fire. Also keep in mind that some animals may simply not get along well enough to spend time together without supervision. It is with great sadness that we share the news that Tanu, the Vancouver Aquarium’s eldest rescued sea otter, passed on Tuesday surrounded by her animal care and her veterinary team. The sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium were rescued when they were just babies. 4 Days / 3 Nights. Otter Cams At the Seattle Aquarium, our marine mammals have been trained to move from one exhibit to another as needed to support animal management and so we may safely clean our exhibits. It’s not just the kids that are enjoying Metro Vancouver’s fresh sheet of snow. Sea otter researcher Erin Foster and naturalist Jackie Hildering count otters for a coastal survey around the northern tip of Vancouver Island. 29 photos of Vancouver under a fresh blanket of snow A study led by marine ecologist Russell Markel found that kelp forests were nearly 20 times larger on the west coast of Vancouver Island after otters eliminated red sea urchins. Sea otters inhabit the Goose Islands, off the central coast of BC, and the isolated areas of the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, mainly the area of the Brooks Peninsula (Brooks Peninsula / Muquin Provincial Park) and adjacent Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve, an extensive area (34,650 hectares) of marine shoreline, reefs and islets providing habitat for BC’s recovering Sea Otter population. The composition of social groups within the Vancouver Aquarium’s sea otter population changes frequently and for many reasons, among them enrichment, animal welfare, management ─ and healthcare. The Vancouver Aquarium is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. When otters move in, they devour the urchins and kelp forests flourish as a result. The reintroduction to B.C. “I don’t have the same feelings toward them as my grandma.”, West Coast Expeditions offers a variety of sea kayaking tours from Spring Island – including a five-day sea otter kayaking expedition. Found on the rugged northwest coast of Vancouver Island, Nootka Sound is a remarkable coastal region unparalleled in it’s seascapes and wildlife. A … Instead they rely on their dense fur coat for insulation against the cold. For example, when otters dig seagrass beds to find clams and leave foraging holes behind, they may be oxygenating the soil and helping the seagrass grow faster. “It was like being in a middle of a drumming circle.”, Martone showed that the potential revenue to tourism operators would change by several million dollars based on changes in sea otter abundance. River otters are very messy eaters—but they really appear to … “The fact that sea otters are the second most important factor in people’s choice to go on a wildlife tour, after whales, suggests that people are really interested in sea otters and that there is potential benefit to tourism on the west coast of Vancouver Island,” says Rebecca Martone who led the tourism study as a research associate with the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. Due to a ban on hunting, and reintroduction of a small population back into British Columbia, the sea otter populations off the west coast of Vancouver Island have been slowly increasing. Sea urchins are normally too large and too deep for the harlequin ducks to get themselves, but when the sea otters crack open the urchins at the surface, the ducks enjoy the urchin scraps in the otters’ wake. Daily Hive is a Canadian-born online news source, established in 2008, that creates compelling, hyperlocal content. “That was our food.”. On the other hand, the disturbance they create may contribute to releasing carbon buried in the sediment into the atmosphere. “All the rocks made slightly different sounds, there were so many otters,”, says. “All the rocks made slightly different sounds, there were so many otters,” Rechsteinersays. Sea otters are not related to seals or sea lions, but are rather a member of the mink family. ... See all photos. On the wild west coast of Vancouver Island lies Nuchatlitz Provincial Marine Park – a spectacular group of small islets, soft sand beaches, open ocean views, and amazing wildlife. Since then, otters have made a remarkable comeback. See also. Sea urchins are normally too large and too deep for the harlequin ducks to get themselves, but when the sea otters crack open the urchins at the surface, the ducks enjoy the urchin scraps in the otters’ wake. For example, if there were more sea otters in an area, this would translate into a 7.4 percent increase in tourists choosing to go on a wildlife tour with a high probability of seeing a sea otter. When otters are not present, sea urchins, abalone, clams, crabs, geoducks and other invertebrates increase in abundance, opening up opportunities for First Nations and commercial fishers to harvest them. “The jury is still out as what the seaotter’s engineering impacts are going to be on seagrass beds,” says Margot Hessing-Lewis, a marine ecologist at Hakai Institute who studies interactions between sea otters and the linkages between nearshore habitats such as seagrass beds and kelp forests. She suspects that kelp that wash up on the shoreline may feed the terrestrial ecosystem and the small animals that live on land, but more research needs to be done to test this assumption. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 otters from Alaska were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. Sea otter populations in Alaska are now quite healthy. Vancouver Island Range The sea otter is distributed exclusively on the west coast of the island, ranging from Cape Scott in the north, to Barkley Sound in the south (though southward expansion is likely occurring). Coastal wolves that patrol the Mission Group of islands are able to include sea otters on the menu of their marine diet, while harlequin ducks follow sea otters in the wintertime, also hoping for a good meal. Because of their higher metabolic rate, sea otters must eat up to a quarter of their weight daily to meet their energy requirements. To a sea urchin, crab or clam, a sea otter is a fearsome predator. Meet the Vancouver Aquarium's rescued sea otter pup, Hardy, who is literally too cute for you to handle. Now they’re thriving in their Aquarium habitat. Earlier today, the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal trainers held a “snow enrichment session” with their six rescued sea otters: Tanu, Katmai, Mak, Kunik, Rialto, and Hardy. Start typing to see results or hit ESC to close. The sea otters at the Aquarium are famous for being cute and fluffy, but there’s more to them than being adorable. You may see them in spots like Esquimalt Harbour and Lagoon, Telegraph Cove, Tofino and Ucluelet harbours, Jack Point in … Located in beautiful Port Alice, B.C. The otters were feeding over kelp beds where they were pulling up red turban snails and smashing them in half on rocks that they used as tools. They bring back their catch to the surface, often lying on their back with food on the chest, while they eat and handle prey. Rechsteiner suspects that as otters pull bunches of large mussels off the rocks, this creates bare patches where juvenile invertebrates can settle and grow, which in turn feeds the oystercatchers who cannot eat the larger mussels. Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in the late 1800s. From land or from a kayak, visitors can enjoy the various and sometimes comical behaviours sea otters engage in. Their numbers and range have expanded rapidly, and there are now nearly 7,000 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of B.C. Spring Island, located in the Mission Group of Islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island, is near the Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve and the First Nations village of Kyuquot. Space is limited for the behind the scenes tours but you can learn more and sign up online. The otters were feeding over kelp beds where they were pulling up red turban snails and smashing them in half on rocks that they used as tools. Dedicated staff had to bottle-feed and groom them until they learned how to do it themselves. You also agree to receive email updates on new posts and offers. Their numbers and range have expanded rapidly, and there are now nearly 7,000 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of B.C.Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in … For example, when otters dig seagrass beds to find clams and leave foraging holes behind, they may be oxygenating the soil and helping the seagrass grow faster. The long-term influence of these ecology wizards on the landscape is still not entirely understood. Location: Nootka Sound, BC. Vancouver Aquarium Rescues 'Orphaned' Otter Pup, Found 'Hypothermic and Hypoglycemic' The little pup, named Joey, was found near Kyuquot and flown to Vancouver for care You will be sent an opt-in email to confirm that you would like to receive emails from us. “I don’t mind the sea otters,” says the 20-year old. The sea otter is the heaviest in the Mustelidae family including 13 otters, among them the giant otter. The return of sea otters seems to benefit a range of animals, small and big. at Hakai Institute who studies interactions between sea otters and the linkages between nearshore habitats such as seagrass beds and kelp forests. Since then, otters have made a remarkable comeback. In celebration of Sea Otter Awareness Week and our Spotlight on Sea Otters on now at the Vancouver Aquarium, we would like to introduce the sea otters at the Aquarium. Martone noted that although tourists value the charismatic otters, the wildlife tour operators she interviewed did not perceive sea otters as a strong factor influencing their business. The last otters seen in B.C. Their numbers and range have expanded rapidly, and there are now nearly 7,000 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of B.C.Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in the late 1800s. Three rescued sea otter pups from the Vancouver Aquarium – Rialto, Mak and Kunik – were introduced for the first time this week to the Aquarium’s adult otter Tanu. Vancouver Aquarium: two sea otters float around, napping, holding hands. On the other hand, the disturbance they create may contribute to releasing carbon buried in the sediment into the atmosphere. This summer we have had sporadic sightings of a few lone sea otters in the Port McNeill / Telegraph Cove area but you would be extremely lucky to see one. “The sea otters came and destroyed everything,” Hansen says. On land, visitors may also notice beach-cast kelp, another potential sea otter effect. They were so young that they didn’t know how to eat by themselves or groom themselves yet. River Otters on Vancouver Island The North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) can be found in many places around Vancouver Island. Increasingly, the recovery of sea otters can attract tourist dollars. You will have much better chances of seeing them on a trip from Tofino, or perhaps from Port Hardy with Nakwakto Rapids Tours. In an environment where otters are absent, sea urchins thrive and eradicate kelp beds. “The best-known effect of sea otters is an increase in kelp,” says Jane Watson, a marine ecologist at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. “Sea otters are a huge drivers of change,” says Erin Rechsteiner, a research ecologist at the Hakai Institute and a PhD student at the University of Victoria’s Applied Conservation Science Lab. If these dates don't work for you, consider our 4-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour or 6-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour trip dates! "It's a very complex issue and we'll see how it unfolds," she said. westcoastexpeditions.com. West Coast Expeditions is one of the only ecotourism businesses on Vancouver Island which is co-owned by First Nations, providing an opportunity for Aboriginal communities to benefit from sea-otter related tourism. Also, while Tofino-based tourismoperatorsmay benefit from increased sea ottertourism opportunities, these profits may not reach First Nations communities that are not part of the wildlife tourism economy and yet are often negatively impacted by the return of sea otters. For example, Ryan Sabbas, Hilda Hansen’s grandson, guides tours with Pinel on Spring Island, and is a graduate of Vancouver Island-based Aboriginal Ecotourism Training Program. The river otter is often confused with the sea otter, so we have a chart below that … Coastal wolves that patrol the Mission Group of islands are able to include sea otters on the menu of their marine diet, while harlequin ducks follow sea otters in the wintertime, also hoping for a good meal. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 otters from Alaska were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. Home to rescued sea otters. “It was like being in a middle of a drumming circle.”. “Sea otters are a lens, a door into so many topics about ecology, the history of British Columbia, First Nations, interactions with other species,” Pinel says. At low tide, Spring Island’s shoreline becomes alive with colours and movement. “Some of them are resting, others are grooming, shaking their fur, repositioning.”, Pinel has made sea otter viewing a main focus of the ecotourism tours he has been leading for the last 20 years in the region. Tiny sculpins busily move around the marine algae in tide pools alongside a myriad of other invertebrates, while crabs play hide-and-seek in the exposed seagrass beds. When they first arrive in an area, they eat all the selfish they can: sea urchins first, but also abalone, mussels, clams, crabs and snails. In this case, the estimated gain in potential revenue for tourism operators in the region would be approximately $9.5million per year. They bring back their catch to the surface, often lying on their back with food on the chest, while they eat and handle prey. “It is a constant motion machine,” says David Pinel, our guide and the owner of kayak tour company West Coast Expeditions. When sea otters return, their insatiable appetite creates a conflict with the people who have an economic and cultural interest in shellfish. By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. A recent survey of Vancouver Island visitors find that the willingness to pay for a wildlife tour was $228 per visitor if there was a high chance of seeing otters. From shore, shiny black heads can be seen at the surface of the water. From the moment she was discovered in 2004, orphaned and alone in the water by a boater near Sitka, Alaska, Tanu captured the hearts of everyone who met her. SO CUTE! Hunted to extirpation by fur traders, sea otters were absent in British Columbia by the 1930s. They had just had a very successful fishing trip and were busily devouring a bunch of little flounders or sand dabs. The otters’ voracious appetite has profound implications for the local ecosystems. “People can connect the relevance of the sea otter story with some elements of being a human on our own and the various struggles for existence for staying warm, dry and feeding ourselves,” Pinel notes. “The sea otters provide this really cool prey subsidy to the ducks,” says Rechsteiner. According to Aquarium staff, the enrichment sessions provide mental and physical stimulation for the animals and gives them a chance to strengthen their bonds with their trainers. From his kayak, Sabbas watches the sea otter raft, along with a group of tourists in awe, just a few minutes away from base camp. for decades were reportedly shot off the west coast of Vancouver Island between 1929 and 1930. When Pinel leads land-based and kayak tours off Spring Island, he points to the multiple interactions between the sea otters and the local ecosystem, as tourists spot a flock of oystercatchers on a small rock or take notice of the healthy seagrass beds in the intertidal zone. Rechsteiner fondly remembers once seeing 50 male otters getting blown into a small cove during a winter storm on the central coast. Biologists describe sea otters as a keystone species, meaning that as they come back, they are transforming the environment around them. The ecological changes the otters trigger have an economic cost. 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