Decline in sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations along the Alaska Peninsula, 1986–2001

Burn, Douglas M. and Doroff, Angela M. (2005) Decline in sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations along the Alaska Peninsula, 1986–2001. Fishery Bulletin, 103(2), pp. 270-279.

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During the 1990s, sea otter (Enhydra lutris) counts in the Aleutian archipelago decreased by 70% throughout the archipelago between 1992 and 2000. Recent aerial surveys in the Aleutians did not identify the eastward extent of the decline; therefore we conducted an aerial survey along the Alaska Peninsula for comparison with baseline information. Since 1986, abundance estimates in offshore habitat have declined by 27– 49% and 93 –94% in northern and southern Alaska Peninsula study areas, respectively. During this same time period, sea otter density has declined by 63% along the island coastlines within the south Alaska Peninsula study area. Between 1989 and 2001, sea otter density along the southern coastline of the Alaska Peninsula declined by 35% to the west of Castle Cape but density increased by 4% to the east, which may indicate an eastward extent of the decline. In all study areas, sea otters were primarily concentrated in bays and lagoon, whereas historically, large rafts of otters had been distributed offshore. The population declines observed along the Alaska Peninsula occurred at roughly the same time as declines in the Aleutian islands to the east and the Kodiak archipelago to the west. Since the mid-1980s, the sea otter population throughout southwest Alaska has declined overall by an estimated 56–68%, and the decline may be one of the most significant sea otter conservation issues in our time.

Item Type: Article
Title: Decline in sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations along the Alaska Peninsula, 1986–2001
Personal Creator/Author:
Burn, Douglas M.
Doroff, Angela M.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Fishery Bulletin
Volume: 103
Number: 2
Page Range: pp. 270-279
Date: 2005
ISSN: 0090-0656
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Item ID: 9613
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2012 14:33
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2012 14:33

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