Public Lecture: How do Sea Otters Transform Nearshore Ecosystems?
March 16, 2014 10:00 am
Join Russel Markel of Outer Shores Expeditions and UBC while he tells a tale about local sea otters. During the maritime fur trade (ca. 1778-1911) sea otters were hunted to the brink of extinction - in their absence, nearshore marine ecosystems changed drastically. Today, reintroduced sea otter populations are expanding along the west coast of Vancouver Island, with amazing effects. By eating huge numbers of sea urchins and other large grazers, sea otters enable kelp (and other seaweed) populations to increase in size by approximately 20-times, forming expansive and diverse undersea forests. In turn, these forests form the basis of highly productive food webs that support recreationally, commercially and ecologically valuable fish populations, including greenlings, rockfish, lingcod, herring and salmon. During the presentation, we'll describe the research that we've been conducting to understand exactly how sea otters affect fishes, ecosystems and people.