Sea Otter Population Genetics Southern Sea Otters
Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) play a key role in the kelp forests along the Central California coast. However the fur trade in the 18th century nearly wiped out the species.
Despite their placement on the Endangered Species List in 1977 the populations have been very slow to recover. Every year many otters fall victim to disease, parasites, pollution and occasionally are injured by humans. Together with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care & Research Center we are working to develop a large and informative suite of genetic markers to help track the flow of disease through the otter populations of California.
More information about sea otters:
California Department of Fish and Game Outdoor California 2003 article, "Southern sea otter - Sentinel of the sea"
Sea Otter Disease Research Web site