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Sample records for california sea otters

  1. Population status of California sea otters

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1988-11-30

    The main objective of the study was to develop a simulation model to facilitate analysis of the risk of oil spills to the threatened California sea otter population. Existing data on the dynamics and demography of the population were synthesized. The additional data needed for model development were collected through radiotelemetry studies of sea otters in Alaska and California. The simulation model contains four interrelated stochastic submodels: a short-term population model, a long-term population model, a sea otter distribution model, and a sea otter movement model. The report includes a detailed description of the model, the data on which it is based, and an operating manual.

  2. Sea otters are recolonizing southern California in fits and starts

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lafferty, Kevin D.; Tinker, M. Tim

    2014-01-01

    After near extinction as a result of the fur trade in the 1700s and 1800s, the southern sea otter slowly reoccupied the core of its range in central California. Range expansion beyond central California is seen as key to full recovery of otters, but the rate of expansion has been sporadic, raising concerns about habitat quality in southern California. To describe the range expansion of sea otters from central into southern California, we used skiff surveys, aerial surveys, and archival time-depth recorders from 2004 to 2013. These observations show that range expansion began when male otters swam southeast of Point Conception (Cojo Anchorage), perhaps to seek refuge from bad weather and to feed on unexploited resources. After several years of seasonal use by male groups, females began to use the area, leading to reproduction and a secondary increase in abundance. In contrast, a second male group that moved farther down the coast to Coal Oil Point stalled and retreated. Such range expansion and contraction can be explained by the social nature of sea otters, which acts to slow dispersal away from groups. Otter densities at Cojo Anchorage are now approaching equilibrium levels reported for central California. As in central California, otters rested in and near kelp forest habitat, but used deeper water for foraging. Together, these observations suggest habitat in the Santa Barbara Channel can still support sea otters, but range expansion of otters into southern California will be episodic due to social dynamics.

  3. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in livers of California sea otters.

    PubMed

    Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Perrotta, Emily

    2008-03-01

    Concentrations of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were measured in livers of 81 adult female sea otters collected along the California coast in 1992-2002. Concentrations of summation operatorPAHs in livers of sea otters were in the range of 588-17400ng/g lipid wt (mean: 3880ng/g, lipid wt). On a wet weight basis, the concentrations ranged from 17 to 1430ng/g (mean: 146ng/g). Overall, di- and tri-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, namely, naphthalene, fluorene, phenanthrene/anthracene, and acenaphthylene, were the predominant compounds found in the livers. Although petroleum-related sources appear to be the major contributors to PAH exposure in sea otters, exposure sources varied by geographical sub-regions. Dibenz[a,h]anthracene was found to comprise a significant proportion of the summation operatorPAH concentrations in sea otters from the northern sub-region of the study area. No significant difference existed in the concentrations of summation operatorPAHs among sea otters that died from infectious diseases, emaciation, and noninfectious causes. Concentrations of summation operatorPAHs in livers of sea otters decreased significantly from 1992 to 2002. Because of the rapid metabolism of PAHs in marine mammals such as sea otters, further studies examining the association of PAHs with health effects should determine hydroxylated metabolites in livers.

  4. Coccidioidomycosis in a California sea otter (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Cornell, L H; Osborn, K G; Antrim, J E; Simpson, J G

    1979-07-01

    A weak and emaciated California sea otter (Enhydra lutris) was found stranded on Atascadero Beach in Morro Bay, California. It died three weeks after capture. A diagnosis of coccidioidomycosis was confirmed by histology, serology and culture. This is believed to be the first reported case of this disease from the Morro Bay area of San Luis Obispo County, California as well as the first reported case in a free-ranging marine mammal.

  5. Status of translocated sea otters at San Nicolas Island, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rathbun, Galen B.; Hatfield, Brian B.; Murphey, Thomas G.

    2000-01-01

    In the 1970s about 1,650 southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were restricted to the central California coast (Riedman and Estes, 1990), and a high volume of oil was being shipped through the region. Because of the vulnerability of sea otters to contamination from oil (Costa and Kooyman, 1982; Williams and Davis, 1995) that would likely spread wide- ly along the shore after a large spill (Van- Blaricom and Jameson, 1982), the subspecies was listed as threatened in 1977 under the United States Endangered Species Act.

  6. Comparison of organochlorine contaminants among sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations in California and Alaska

    SciTech Connect

    Bacon, C.E.; Jarman, W.M.; Estes, J.A.; Simon, M.; Norstrom, R.J.

    1999-03-01

    Organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) including non-ortho PCBs, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) were measured in sea otter liver tissue from California, southeast Alaska, and the western Aleutian archipelago collected between 1988 and 1992. Average total dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane concentrations for California otters were over 20 times higher than in Aleutian otters and over 800 times higher than otters from southeast Alaska. Levels for total PCBs in Aleutian otters were 1.7 times higher than levels in California otters and 38 times higher than otters from southeast Alaska. Levels for PCDD and PCDF were extremely low in all otter populations. Levels of PCBs in Aleutian and Californian otters are abnormally high when compared with southeast Alaskan otters. The source of PCBs to the Aleutian Islands remains unclear and vital to understanding the potential impacts to sea otters.

  7. Annual California Sea Otter Census - 2016 spring census summary

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M. Tim; Hatfield, Brian

    2016-01-01

    The spring 2016 mainland sea otter count began on 1 May and was completed on 11 May. Overall viewing conditions this year were very good, being more favorable than those during the 2015 spring census (3.1 vs. 2.6, where 0=poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=very good, and 4=excellent) and contributed to the relatively short duration of the count. The surface canopies of kelp (Macrocystis sp.) were considered by most participants to be below normal for this time of year in the northern half of the range and about normal in the southern half. Sea otters along the mainland were surveyed (using a combination of ground-based and aerial-based surveys) from Pillar Point in San Mateo County in the north, to Rincon Point in the south at the Santa Barbara/Ventura County line. A separate ground-based survey of the sea otter population at San Nicolas Island was completed earlier (April 15-April 18). Surface kelp canopies at the time of survey at San Nicolas Island were estimated to be below normal near shore off the western end of the island and about normal elsewhere.  Survey viewing conditions were very good (View Score = 3.0).These data support the following data series release: Tinker, M.T., and Hatfield, B.B., 2016, California sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) census results, spring 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1018, 10 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ds1018.

  8. Bartonella spp. exposure in northern and southern sea otters in Alaska and California.

    PubMed

    Carrasco, Sebastian E; Chomel, Bruno B; Gill, Verena A; Doroff, Angela M; Miller, Melissa A; Burek-Huntington, Kathleen A; Kasten, Rickie W; Byrne, Barbara A; Goldstein, Tracey; Mazet, Jonna A K

    2014-12-01

    Since 2002, an increased number of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from southcentral Alaska have been reported to be dying due to endocarditis and/or septicemia with infection by Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli. Bartonella spp. DNA was also detected in northern sea otters as part of mortality investigations during this unusual mortality event (UME) in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. To evaluate the extent of exposure to Bartonella spp. in sea otters, sera collected from necropsied and live-captured northern sea otters, as well as necropsied southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) unaffected by the UME, were analyzed using an immunofluorescent antibody assay. Antibodies against Bartonella spp. were detected in sera from 50% of necropsied and 34% of presumed healthy, live-captured northern sea otters and in 16% of necropsied southern sea otters. The majority of sea otters with reactive sera were seropositive for B. washoensis, with antibody titers ranging from 1:64 to 1:256. Bartonella spp. antibodies were especially common in adult northern sea otters, both free-living (49%) and necropsied (62%). Adult stranded northern sea otters that died from infectious causes, such as opportunistic bacterial infections, were 27 times more likely to be Bartonella seropositive than adult stranded northern sea otters that died from noninfectious causes (p<0.001; 95% confidence interval 2.62-269.4). Because Bartonella spp. antibodies were detected in necropsied northern sea otters from southcentral (44%) and southwestern (86%) stocks of Alaska, as well as in necropsied southern sea otters (16%) in southcentral California, we concluded that Bartonella spp. exposure is widely distributed among sea otter populations in the Eastern Pacific, providing context for investigating future disease outbreaks and monitoring of Bartonella infections for sea otter management and conservation.

  9. Bartonella spp. Exposure in Northern and Southern Sea Otters in Alaska and California

    PubMed Central

    Chomel, Bruno B.; Gill, Verena A.; Doroff, Angela M.; Miller, Melissa A.; Burek-Huntington, Kathleen A.; Kasten, Rickie W.; Byrne, Barbara A.; Goldstein, Tracey; Mazet, Jonna A.K.

    2014-01-01

    Abstract Since 2002, an increased number of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from southcentral Alaska have been reported to be dying due to endocarditis and/or septicemia with infection by Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli. Bartonella spp. DNA was also detected in northern sea otters as part of mortality investigations during this unusual mortality event (UME) in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. To evaluate the extent of exposure to Bartonella spp. in sea otters, sera collected from necropsied and live-captured northern sea otters, as well as necropsied southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) unaffected by the UME, were analyzed using an immunofluorescent antibody assay. Antibodies against Bartonella spp. were detected in sera from 50% of necropsied and 34% of presumed healthy, live-captured northern sea otters and in 16% of necropsied southern sea otters. The majority of sea otters with reactive sera were seropositive for B. washoensis, with antibody titers ranging from 1:64 to 1:256. Bartonella spp. antibodies were especially common in adult northern sea otters, both free-living (49%) and necropsied (62%). Adult stranded northern sea otters that died from infectious causes, such as opportunistic bacterial infections, were 27 times more likely to be Bartonella seropositive than adult stranded northern sea otters that died from noninfectious causes (p<0.001; 95% confidence interval 2.62–269.4). Because Bartonella spp. antibodies were detected in necropsied northern sea otters from southcentral (44%) and southwestern (86%) stocks of Alaska, as well as in necropsied southern sea otters (16%) in southcentral California, we concluded that Bartonella spp. exposure is widely distributed among sea otter populations in the Eastern Pacific, providing context for investigating future disease outbreaks and monitoring of Bartonella infections for sea otter management and conservation. PMID:25514118

  10. Lumber spill in central California waters: implications for oil spills and sea otters

    SciTech Connect

    VanBlaricom, G.R.; Jameson, R.J.

    1982-03-19

    A large quantity of lumber was spilled in the ocean off central California during the winter of 1978, and it spread through most of the range of the threatened California sea otter population within 4 weeks. The movement rates of lumber were similar to those of oil slicks observed elsewhere. These observations indicate that a major oil spill could expose significant numbers of California sea otters to oil contamination.

  11. California sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) census results, Spring 2016

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M. Tim; Hatfield, Brian B.

    2016-09-19

    The 2016 census of southern sea otters Enhydra lutris nereis was conducted in May along the mainland coast of central California and in April at San Nicolas Island in southern California. The 3-year average of combined counts from the mainland range and San Nicolas Island was 3,272. This is the first year that the official index has exceeded 3,090, the Endangered Species Act delisting threshold suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the threshold would need to be exceeded for 3 consecutive years before delisting consideration). The 5-year average trend in abundance, including both the mainland range and San Nicolas Island populations, is positive at 3.2 percent per year; however, regional trends vary, with localized declines at the southern and northern peripheries of the mainland range. The lack of population growth in the range peripheries over recent years likely explains the cessation of range expansion, with the range limits remaining almost unchanged from the previous 5 years.

  12. Relating dispersal and range expansion of California sea otters.

    PubMed

    Krkosek, Martin; Lauzon-Guay, Jean-Sébastien; Lewis, Mark A

    2007-06-01

    Linking dispersal and range expansion of invasive species has long challenged theoretical and quantitative ecologists. Subtle differences in dispersal can yield large differences in geographic spread, with speeds ranging from constant to rapidly increasing. We developed a stage-structured integrodifference equation (IDE) model of the California sea otter range expansion that occurred between 1914 and 1986. The non-spatial model, a linear matrix population model, was coupled to a suite of candidate dispersal kernels to form stage-structured IDEs. Demographic and dispersal parameters were estimated independent of range expansion data. Using a single dispersal parameter, alpha, we examined how well these stage-structured IDEs related small scale demographic and dispersal processes with geographic population expansion. The parameter alpha was estimated by fitting the kernels to dispersal data and by fitting the IDE model to range expansion data. For all kernels, the alpha estimate from range expansion data fell within the 95% confidence intervals of the alpha estimate from dispersal data. The IDE models with exponentially bounded kernels predicted invasion velocities that were captured within the 95% confidence bounds on the observed northbound invasion velocity. However, the exponentially bounded kernels yielded range expansions that were in poor qualitative agreement with range expansion data. An IDE model with fat (exponentially unbounded) tails and accelerating spatial spread yielded the best qualitative match. This model explained 94% and 97% of the variation in northbound and southbound range expansions when fit to range expansion data. These otters may have been fat-tailed accelerating invaders or they may have followed a piece-wise linear spread first over kelp forests and then over sandy habitats. Further, habitat-specific dispersal data could resolve these explanations.

  13. Sea Otter, River Otter. The Wonder Series.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Robinson, Sandra Chisholm

    This curriculum guide is all about otters and provides information on both sea and river otters. Included are activities related to the diet of sea otters, the adaptations sea otters have made to live in the sea, their tool-using abilities, where they live and how to spot them, comparative anatomy of sea and river otters, and otter movement. The…

  14. Some factors affecting the oil-spill risk to sea otters in California. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Tinney, R.T.

    1984-10-01

    Sea otters in California, with their limited range and numbers, are exposed to the threat of oil spills from a number of sources including offshore oil and gas development, transportation of crude oil and refined products, and the bunker fuel of vessels transiting the otter range. This report explores some of the direct and indirect ways otters may be affected by oil spills, including hypothermia, pneumonia, toxic effects, and destruction of preferred prey. The report also examines the possibility of mitigating the effects of oil spills through spill containment and cleanup, otter capture, cleaning and rehabilitation, and otter relocation. The report concludes with a description of the amount of shoreline affected by some major spills in various parts of the world.

  15. Butyltin residues in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found dead along California coastal waters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kannan, K.; Guruge, K.S.; Thomas, N.J.; Tanabe, S.; Giesy, J.P.

    1998-01-01

    Tributyltin (TBT) and its degradation products, mono- (MBT) and dibutyltin (DBT), were determined in liver, kidney, and brain tissues of adult southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found dead along the coast of California during 1992a??1996. Hepatic concentrations of butyltin compounds (BTs = MBT + DBT + TBT) ranged from 40 to 9200 ng/g wet wt, which varied depending on the sampling location and gender. Concentrations of BTs in sea otters were comparable to those reported in stranded bottlenose dolphins from the U.S. Atlantic Coast during 1989a??1994. Greater accumulation of butyltins in sea otters was explained by their bottom-feeding habit and the diet that consists exclusively of invertebrates such as mollusks and gastropods. Livers of female sea otters contained approximately 2-fold greater concentrations of BTs than did those of males. The composition of butyltin compounds in sea otter tissues was predominated by TBT in most cases and suggestive of recent exposure. Large harbors such as Monterey Harbor that handle ships legally painted with TBT-containing antifouling paints continued to experience ecotoxicologically significant butyltin contamination. Sea otters, which were affected by infectious diseases, contained greater concentrations of BTs in their tissues than those that died from trauma and other unknown causes.

  16. Dramatic increase in sea otter mortality from white sharks in California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M. Tim; Hatfield, Brian B.; Harris, Michael D.; Ames, Jack A.

    2016-01-01

    Although southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) are not considered prey for white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), sharks do nonetheless bite sea otters. We analyzed spatial and temporal trends in shark bites on sea otters in California, assessing the frequency of shark bite wounds in 1,870 carcasses collected since 1985. The proportion of stranded sea otters having shark bites has increased sharply since 2003, and white shark bites now account for >50% of recovered carcasses. The trend was most pronounced in the southern part of the range, from Estero Bay to Point Conception, where shark bite frequency has increased eightfold. Seasonal trends were also evident: most shark-bitten carcasses are recovered in late summer and fall; however, the period of elevated shark bite frequency has lengthened. The causes of these trends are unclear, but possible contributing factors include increased white shark abundance and/or changes in white shark behavior and distribution. In particular, the spatiotemporal patterns of shark-bitten sea otters match increases in pinniped populations, and the increased availability of marine mammal prey for white sharks may have led to more sharks spending more time in nearshore waters utilized by both sea otters and pinnipeds.

  17. Chlorinated, brominated, and perfluorinated compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trace elements in livers of sea otters from California, Washington, and Alaska (USA), and Kamchatka (Russia)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kannan, K.; Moon, H.-B.; Yun, S.-H.; Agusa, T.; Thomas, N.J.; Tanabe, S.

    2008-01-01

    Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides (DDTs, HCHs, and chlordanes), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), and 20 trace elements were determined in livers of 3- to 5-year old stranded sea otters collected from the coastal waters of California, Washington, and Alaska (USA) and from Kamchatka (Russia). Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PBDEs were high in sea otters collected from the California coast. Concentrations of DDTs were 10-fold higher in California sea otters than in otters from other locations; PCB concentrations were 5-fold higher, and PBDE concentrations were 2-fold higher, in California sea otters than in otters from other locations. Concentrations of PAHs were higher in sea otters from Prince William Sound than in sea otters from other locations. Concentrations of several trace elements were elevated in sea otters collected from California and Prince William Sound. Elevated concentrations of Mn and Zn in sea otters from California and Prince William Sound were indicative of oxidative stress-related injuries in these two populations. Concentrations of all of the target compounds, including trace elements, that were analyzed in sea otters from Kamchatka were lower than those found from the US coastal locations. ?? The Royal Society of Chemistry.

  18. Chlorinated, brominated, and perfluorinated compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trace elements in livers of sea otters from California, Washington, and Alaska (USA), and Kamchatka (Russia).

    PubMed

    Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Moon, Hyo-Bang; Yun, Se Hun; Agusa, Tetsuro; Thomas, Nancy J; Tanabe, Shinsuke

    2008-04-01

    Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides (DDTs, HCHs, and chlordanes), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), and 20 trace elements were determined in livers of 3- to 5-year old stranded sea otters collected from the coastal waters of California, Washington, and Alaska (USA) and from Kamchatka (Russia). Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PBDEs were high in sea otters collected from the California coast. Concentrations of DDTs were 10-fold higher in California sea otters than in otters from other locations; PCB concentrations were 5-fold higher, and PBDE concentrations were 2-fold higher, in California sea otters than in otters from other locations. Concentrations of PAHs were higher in sea otters from Prince William Sound than in sea otters from other locations. Concentrations of several trace elements were elevated in sea otters collected from California and Prince William Sound. Elevated concentrations of Mn and Zn in sea otters from California and Prince William Sound were indicative of oxidative stress-related injuries in these two populations. Concentrations of all of the target compounds, including trace elements, that were analyzed in sea otters from Kamchatka were lower than those found from the US coastal locations.

  19. Sea otter health: Challenging a pet hypothesis

    PubMed Central

    Lafferty, Kevin D.

    2015-01-01

    A recent series of studies on tagged sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) challenges the hypothesis that sea otters are sentinels of a dirty ocean, in particular, that pet cats are the main source of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii in central California. Counter to expectations, sea otters from unpopulated stretches of coastline are less healthy and more exposed to parasites than city-associated otters. Ironically, now it seems that spillover from wildlife, not pets, dominates spatial patterns of disease transmission. PMID:26155464

  20. Sea otter health: challenging a pet hypothesis

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lafferty, Kevin D.

    2015-01-01

    A recent series of studies on tagged sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) challenges the hypothesis that sea otters are sentinels of a dirty ocean, in particular, that pet cats are the main source of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii in central California. Counter to expectations, sea otters from unpopulated stretches of coastline are less healthy and more exposed to parasites than city-associated otters. Ironically, now it seems that spillover from wildlife, not pets, dominates spatial patterns of disease transmission.

  1. Immunomodulatory effects upon in vitro exposure of California sea lion and southern sea otter peripheral blood leukocytes to domoic acid.

    PubMed

    Levin, Milton; Joshi, Dhanashree; Draghi, Andrew; Gulland, Frances M; Jessup, David; De Guise, Sylvain

    2010-04-01

    During red tide bloom events, the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia produces the toxin domoic acid (DA), which has been associated with stranding and mortality events involving California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris). In addition to these well-documented DA-induced neurotoxic events, there is increasing concern that DA may exert chronic effects, such as immunomodulation, which may potentially increase an individual's susceptibility to a number of opportunistic infections following nonlethal exposure. We investigated the effects of DA on innate (phagocytosis and respiratory burst) and adaptive (mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation) immune functions with the use of peripheral blood leukocytes collected from healthy California sea lions and southern sea otters upon in vitro exposure to 0 (unexposed control), 0.0001, 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 1.0, 10, and 100 microM DA. Domoic acid did not significantly modulate phagocytosis or respiratory burst in either species. For California sea lions, DA significantly increased ConA-induced T-lymphocyte proliferation upon exposure to DA concentrations ranging from 0.0001 to 10 microM, resulting in a nonlinear dose-response curve. There was no effect on lymphocyte proliferation at the highest concentration of DA tested. No effects on lymphocyte proliferation were observed in southern sea otters. Importantly, the in vitro DA concentrations affecting T-cell proliferation were within or below the range of DA in serum measured in free-ranging California sea lions following natural exposure, suggesting a risk for immunomodulation in free-ranging animals. Understanding the risk for immunomodulation upon DA exposure will contribute in the health assessment and management of California sea lions and southern sea otters, as well as guide veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators in caring for and treating afflicted animals.

  2. Using stable isotopes to investigate individual diet specialization in California sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Newsome, S.D.; Tinker, M.T.; Monson, D.H.; Oftedal, O.T.; Ralls, K.; Staedler, M.M.; Fogel, M.L.; Estes, J.A.

    2009-01-01

    Differences in diet composition among conspecifics (dietary specialization) have been documented across a broad range of taxonomic groups and habitats, and such variation at the individual level is increasingly recognized as an important component of diversity in trophic interactions. Accurate identification of individual dietary specialization, however, requires longitudinal dietary records that are labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive to obtain for many species. Here we explore the use of stable isotopes (??13C and ??15N) as a promising technique for detecting and quantifying patterns of individual dietary specialization. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) offer a unique opportunity for testing this approach because (1) they consume a wide variety of prey that span multiple trophic levels, habitats, and ecologically defined functional groups: and (2) individual diet specialization can be validated with existing observational data. We analyzed the isotopic composition of sea otter vibrissae (n = 31) in order to characterize inter- and intra-individual variation in sea otter diets at Monterey Bay, California, USA. At the population level, sea otters showed substantial variation in both ??13C and ??15N values, occupying nearly all of the "isotopic space" created by the diversity of isotopic signatures of potential prey taxa. Most of the variation in sea otter vibrissae was accounted for by differences between individuals, with much less contributed by within-individual variation. A majority of sea otters (???80%) showed relatively little temporal variability in isotopic composition, suggesting that the proportional composition of most individuals' diets is relatively constant over time; a few individuals (???20%) exhibited a high degree of intra-vibrissa isotopic variability, suggesting seasonal shifts in diet composition. These results and our interpretation of them were supported by long-term observational data on the diets of radio-tagged sea otters from

  3. Using stable isotopes to investigate individual diet specialization in California sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Newsome, Seth D; Tinker, M Tim; Monson, Daniel H; Oftedal, Olav T; Ralls, Katherine; Staedler, Michelle M; Fogel, Marilyn L; Estes, James A

    2009-04-01

    Differences in diet composition among conspecifics (dietary specialization) have been documented across a broad range of taxonomic groups and habitats, and such variation at the individual level is increasingly recognized as an important component of diversity in trophic interactions. Accurate identification of individual dietary specialization, however, requires longitudinal dietary records that are labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive to obtain for many species. Here we explore the use of stable isotopes (delta13C and delta15N) as a promising technique for detecting and quantifying patterns of individual dietary specialization. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) offer a unique opportunity for testing this approach because (1) they consume a wide variety of prey that span multiple trophic levels, habitats, and ecologically defined functional groups; and (2) individual diet specialization can be validated with existing observational data. We analyzed the isotopic composition of sea otter vibrissae (n = 31) in order to characterize inter- and intra-individual variation in sea otter diets at Monterey Bay, California, USA. At the population level, sea otters showed substantial variation in both delta13C and delta15N values, occupying nearly all of the "isotopic space" created by the diversity of isotopic signatures of potential prey taxa. Most of the variation in sea otter vibrissae was accounted for by differences between individuals, with much less contributed by within-individual variation. A majority of sea otters (approximately 80%) showed relatively little temporal variability in isotopic composition, suggesting that the proportional composition of most individuals' diets is relatively constant over time; a few individuals (approximately 20%) exhibited a high degree of intra-vibrissa isotopic variability, suggesting seasonal shifts in diet composition. These results and our interpretation of them were supported by long-term observational data on the

  4. Coccidioidomycosis in southern sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Thomas, Nancy J.; Pappagianis, Demosthenes; Creekmore, Lynn H.; Duncan, Ruth M.

    1994-01-01

    Disseminated coccidioidomycosis was diagnosed postmortem in six southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found dying or dead along the Pacific Coast of California at San Luis Obispo County.  These otters were found during winter or summer 1992, 1993, and 1994.  Coccidioides immitis was identified by its morphology in tissue impression smears and by histopathology, and was confirmed by culture.  Positive serologic results were obtained from four of five sea otters tested.  The lungs, pleura, tracheobronchial lymph nodes, liver, and spleen were involved in each case.  There was meningeal involvement in half of the affected animals.  Coccidioidomycosis has been reported in a wild sea otter only once previously, in 1976, and that otter was also found on the coast of San Luis Obispo County.

  5. Lead sources to California sea otters: Industrial inputs circumvent natural lead biodepletion mechanisms

    SciTech Connect

    Smith, D.R.; Flegal, A.R. ); Niemeyer, S. )

    1992-04-01

    Lead levels (as Pb/Ca atom ratios) and stable isotopic compositions were measured in teeth of preindustrial and contemporary California sea otters (Enhydra lutris) to determine if postindustrial changes had occurred in the magnitude and source of accumulated lead. Lead/calcium atom ratios in teeth of some contemporary animals were significantly elevated and compared to level in other contemporary and preindustrial otters. The isotopic ratios revealed a change in the sources of accumulated leads, from natural continental-derived lead in the preindustrial animals ({sup 207}Pb/{sup 206}Pb = 0.820 {plus minus} 0.002) to industrial sources dominated by aerosol lead in the contemporary otters ({sup 207}Pb/{sup 206}Pb = 0.853), who contained lead derived from an industrial waste lead deposit in Monterey Harbor. These data establish distinguishable sources of lead assimilated by sea otters, and indicate that elevated exposures to some animals circumvented the natural biodepletion of lead through marine trophic pathways.

  6. The cost of reproduction: differential resource specialization in female and male California sea otters.

    PubMed

    Smith, Emma A Elliott; Newsome, Seth D; Estes, James A; Tinker, M Tim

    2015-05-01

    Intraspecific variation in behavior and diet can have important consequences for population and ecosystem dynamics. Here, we examine how differences in reproductive investment and spatial ecology influence individual diet specialization in male and female southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis). We hypothesize that greater reproductive constraints and smaller home ranges of females lead to more pronounced intraspecific competition and increased specialization. We integrate stable carbon (δ(13)C) and nitrogen (δ(15)N) isotope analysis of sea otter vibrissae with long-term observational studies of five subpopulations in California. We define individual diet specialization as low ratios of within-individual variation (WIC) to total population niche width (TNW). We compare isotopic and observational based metrics of WIC/TNW for males and females to data on population densities, and movement patterns using both general linear and linear mixed-effects models. Consistent with our hypothesis, increasing population density is associated with increased individual diet specialization by females but not by males. Additionally, we find the amount of coastline in a sea otter's home range positively related with individual dietary variability, with increased range span resulting in weaker specialization for both males and females. We attribute our results to sex-based differences in movement, with females needing to specialize in their small ranges to maximize energy gain, and posit that the paradigm of individual prey specialization in sea otters with increased intraspecific competition may be a pattern driven largely by females. Our work highlights a potentially broader role of sex in the mechanistic pressures promoting and maintaining diet specialization.

  7. Causes of mortality in California sea otters during periods of population growth and decline

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Estes, J.A.; Hatfield, B.B.; Ralls, K.; Ames, J.

    2003-01-01

    Elevated mortality appears to be the main reason for both sluggish growth and periods of decline in the threatened California sea otter population. We assessed causes of mortality from salvage records of 3,105 beach-cast carcasses recovered from 1968 through 1999, contrasting two periods of growth with two periods of decline. Overall, an estimated 40%-60% of the deaths were not recovered and 70% of the recovered carcasses died from unknown causes. Nonetheless, several common patterns were evident in the salvage records during the periods of population decline. These included greater percentages of (1) prime age animals (3-10 yr), (2) carcasses killed by great white shark attacks, (3) carcasses recovered in spring and summer, and (4) carcasses for which the cause of death was unknown. Neither sex composition nor the proportion of carcasses dying of infectious disease varied consistently between periods of population increase and decline. The population decline from 1976 to 1984 was likely due to incidental mortality in a set-net fishery, and the decline from 1995 to 1999 may be related to a developing live-fish fishery. Long-term trends unrelated to periods of growth and decline included a decrease in per capita pup production and mass/length ratios of adult carcasses over the 31-yr study. The generally high proportion of deaths from infectious disease suggests that this factor has contributed to the chronically sluggish growth rate of the California sea otter population.

  8. Sea Otter Enhydra lutris

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Ballachey, Brenda E.

    1997-01-01

    The sea otter, Enhydra lutris, is the largest member of the Mustelidae family and is the only one which lives entirely in marine waters. Sea otters are unique among marine mammals because, unlike whales, dolphins and seals, they do not have a layer of fat or blubber to keep them warm in the cool oceans of the North Pacific. Instead, sea otters depend on dense fur that traps tiny air bubbles to insulate them from the cold water. To stay warm, they also must maintain a very high metabolic rate, requiring the sea otter to eat about 25% of its body weight per day. Sea otters eat mostly invertebrates - clams, crabs, urchins, and mussels - found in shallow coastal waters.

  9. The cost of reproduction: differential resource specialization in female and male California sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Elliott Smith, Emma A.; Newsome, Seth D.; Estes, James A.; Tinker, M. Tim

    2015-01-01

    Intraspecific variation in behavior and diet can have important consequences for population and ecosystem dynamics. Here, we examine how differences in reproductive investment and spatial ecology influence individual diet specialization in male and female southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis). We hypothesize that greater reproductive constraints and smaller home ranges of females lead to more pronounced intraspecific competition and increased specialization. We integrate stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis of sea otter vibrissae with long-term observational studies of five subpopulations in California. We define individual diet specialization as low ratios of within-individual variation (WIC) to total population niche width (TNW). We compare isotopic and observational based metrics of WIC/TNW for males and females to data on population densities, and movement patterns using both general linear and linear mixed-effects models. Consistent with our hypothesis, increasing population density is associated with increased individual diet specialization by females but not by males. Additionally, we find the amount of coastline in a sea otter’s home range positively related with individual dietary variability, with increased range span resulting in weaker specialization for both males and females. We attribute our results to sex-based differences in movement, with females needing to specialize in their small ranges to maximize energy gain, and posit that the paradigm of individual prey specialization in sea otters with increased intraspecific competition may be a pattern driven largely by females. Our work highlights a potentially broader role of sex in the mechanistic pressures promoting and maintaining diet specialization.

  10. Temporal association between land-based runoff events and California sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) protozoal mortalities.

    PubMed

    Shapiro, Karen; Miller, Melissa; Mazet, Jonna

    2012-04-01

    Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona have caused significant morbidity and mortality in threatened Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) along the central California coast. Because only terrestrial animals are known to serve as definitive hosts for T. gondii and S. neurona, infections in otters suggest a land to sea flow of these protozoan pathogens. To better characterize the role of overland runoff in delivery of terrestrially derived fecal pathogens to the near shore, we assessed the temporal association between indicators of runoff and the timing of sea otter deaths due to T. gondii and S. neurona. Sea otter stranding records 1998-2004, from Monterey and Estero bays were reviewed and cases identified for which T. gondii or S. neurona were determined to be a primary or contributing cause of death. Precipitation and stream flow data from both study sites were used as indicators of land-based runoff. Logistic regression was applied to determine if a temporal association could be detected between protozoal mortalities and runoff indicators that occur in the 2 mo preceding mortality events. A significant association was found between S. neurona otter deaths at Estero Bay and increased stream flow that occurred 30-60 days prior to mortality events. At this site, the cause of otter mortality following increased river flows was 12 times more likely to be S. neurona infection compared with nonprotozoal causes of death. There were no significant associations between the timing of T. gondii otter deaths and indicators of overland runoff. Our results indicate that the association between overland runoff and otter mortalities is affected by geography as well as parasite type, and highlight the complex mechanisms that influence transmission of terrestrially derived pathogens to marine wildlife. Policy and management practices that aim to mitigate discharges of contaminated overland runoff can aid conservation efforts by reducing pathogen pollution of coastal

  11. Persistent organic pollutants in the blood of free-ranging sea otters (Enhydra lutris ssp.) in Alaska and California.

    PubMed

    Jessup, David A; Johnson, Christine K; Estes, James; Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Jarman, Walter M; Reese, Stacey; Dodd, Erin; Tinker, M Tim; Ziccardi, Michael H

    2010-10-01

    As part of tagging and ecologic research efforts in 1997 and 1998, apparently healthy sea otters of four age-sex classes in six locations in Alaska and three in California were sampled for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other chemicals of ecologic or environmental concern (COECs). Published techniques for the detection of POPs (specifically ∑polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], ∑DDTs, ∑hexachlorocyclohexanes [HCHs], ∑polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs], ∑chlordanes [CHLs], hexachlorobenzene [HCB], dieldrin, and mirex) in the tissue of dead otters were modified for use with serum from live sea otters. Toxic equivalencies (TEQs) were calculated for POPs with proven bioactivity. Strong location effects were seen for most POPs and COECs; sea otters in California generally showed higher mean concentrations than those in Alaska. Differences in contaminant concentrations were detected among age and sex classes, with high levels frequently observed in subadults. Very high levels of ∑DDT were detected in male sea otters in Elkhorn Slough, California, where strong freshwater outflow from agricultural areas occurs seasonally. All contaminants except mirex differed among Alaskan locations; only ∑DDT, HCB, and chlorpyrifos differed within California. High levels of ∑PCB (particularly larger, more persistent congeners) were detected at two locations in Alaska where associations between elevated PCBs and military activity have been established, while higher PCB levels were found at all three locations in California where no point source of PCBs has been identified. Although POP and COEC concentrations in blood may be less likely to reflect total body burden, concentrations in blood of healthy animals may be more biologically relevant and less influenced by state of nutrition or perimortem factors than other tissues routinely sampled.

  12. Persistent organic pollutants in the blood of free-ranging sea otters (Enhydra lutris ssp.) in Alaska and California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jessup, David A.; Johnson, Christine K.; Estes, James; Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Jarman, Walter M.; Reese, Stacey; Dodd, Erin; Tinker, M. Tim; Ziccardi, Michael H.

    2010-01-01

    As part of tagging and ecologic research efforts in 1997 and 1998, apparently healthy sea otters of four age-sex classes in six locations in Alaska and three in California were sampled for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other chemicals of ecologic or environmental concern (COECs). Published techniques for the detection of POPs (specifically Σpolychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], ΣDDTs, Σhexachlorocyclohexanes [HCHs], Σpolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs], Σchlordanes [CHLs], hexachlorobenzene [HCB], dieldrin, and mirex) in the tissue of dead otters were modified for use with serum from live sea otters. Toxic equivalencies (TEQs) were calculated for POPs with proven bioactivity. Strong location effects were seen for most POPs and COECs; sea otters in California generally showed higher mean concentrations than those in Alaska. Differences in contaminant concentrations were detected among age and sex classes, with high levels frequently observed in subadults. Very high levels of ΣDDT were detected in male sea otters in Elkhorn Slough, California, where strong freshwater outflow from agricultural areas occurs seasonally. All contaminants except mirex differed among Alaskan locations; only ΣDDT, HCB, and chlorpyrifos differed within California. High levels of ΣPCB (particularly larger, more persistent congeners) were detected at two locations in Alaska where associations between elevated PCBs and military activity have been established, while higher PCB levels were found at all three locations in California where no point source of PCBs has been identified. Although POP and COEC concentrations in blood may be less likely to reflect total body burden, concentrations in blood of healthy animals may be more biologically relevant and less influenced by state of nutrition or perimortem factors than other tissues routinely sampled.

  13. Contamination status and accumulation profiles of organotins in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead along the coasts of California, Washington, Alaska (USA), and Kamchatka (Russia).

    PubMed

    Murata, Satoko; Takahashi, Shin; Agusa, Tetsuro; Thomas, Nancy J; Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Tanabe, Shinsuke

    2008-04-01

    Organotin compounds (OTs) including mono- to tri-butyltins, -phenyltins, and -octyltins were determined in the liver of adult sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead along the coasts of California, Washington, and Alaska in the USA and Kamchatka, Russia. Total concentrations of OTs in sea otters from California ranged from 34 to 4100ng/g on a wet weight basis. The order of concentrations of OTs in sea otters was total butyltins>total octyltins> or = total phenyltins. Elevated concentrations of butyltins (BTs) were found in some otters classified under 'infectious-disease' mortality category. Concentrations of BTs in few of these otters were close to or above the threshold levels for adverse health effects. Total butyltin concentrations decreased significantly in the livers of California sea otters since the 1990s. Based on the concentrations of organotins in sea otters collected from 1992 to 2002, the half-lives of tributyltin and total butyltins in sea otters were estimated to be approximately three years.

  14. Contamination status and accumulation profiles of organotins in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead along the coasts of California, Washington, Alaska (USA), and Kamchatka (Russia)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Murata, S.; Takahashi, S.; Agusa, T.; Thomas, N.J.; Kannan, K.; Tanabe, S.

    2008-01-01

    Organotin compounds (OTs) including mono- to tri-butyltins, -phenyltins, and -octyltins were determined in the liver of adult sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead along the coasts of California, Washington, and Alaska in the USA and Kamchatka, Russia. Total concentrations of OTs in sea otters from California ranged from 34 to 4100 ng/g on a wet weight basis. The order of concentrations of OTs in sea otters was total butyltins ??? total octyltins ??? total phenyltins. Elevated concentrations of butyltins (BTs) were found in some otters classified under 'infectious-disease' mortality category. Concentrations of BTs in few of these otters were close to or above the threshold levels for adverse health effects. Total butyltin concentrations decreased significantly in the livers of California sea otters since the 1990s. Based on the concentrations of organotins in sea otters collected from 1992 to 2002, the half-lives of tributyltin and total butyltins in sea otters were estimated to be approximately three years. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  15. Southern sea otter range expansion and habitat use in the Santa Barbara Channel, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M. Tim; Tomoleoni, Joseph; LaRoche, Nicole; Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Murray, Mike; Staedler, Michelle; Randell, Zachary

    2017-01-17

    The re-colonization of the Santa Barbara channel by sea otters brings these ESA-listed marine mammals closer to active oil and gas production facilities, shipping lanes and naturally occurring oil and gas seeps. However, the degree to which sea otters may actually be affected by human-caused oil spills or exposure to natural oil seeps is currently unknown. Between 2012 and 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey and collaborating agencies conducted a telemetry-based study of sea otters in Santa Barbara channel, in order to provide critical information for resource managers (specifically the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, henceforth BOEM, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, henceforth USFWS) about the spatial ecology, population status, and potential population threats to sea otters in Santa Barbara Channel, with particular reference to exposure to manmade structures and sources of oil and natural gas. Analysis of spatial monitoring data using a Bayesian-based synoptic model allowed for description of sea otter home ranges, identification of hot-spots of use, and insights into habitat selection behavior by male and female sea otters. Important findings included the deeper modal depth preferred by males versus females, strong preferences by both sexes for areas with persistent kelp canopy, and greater use of soft-sediment areas by males. The synoptic model also provided the ability to predict population-level density distribution for each sex in new habitats: by calculating the value of these probability density distributions at the known locations of natural seeps, we were able to identify those seeps with higher potential for sea otter encounters. The relative probability of occurrence at locations near to some seeps was sufficiently high (about 1% likelihood of occurrence for some of our study animals) that one would anticipate occasional encounters. Data on male and female survival, reproductive success, activity budgets, and body condition all indicated that

  16. Characterization of beta-hemolytic streptococci isolated from southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) stranded along the California coast.

    PubMed

    Imai, Denise; Jang, Spencer; Miller, Melissa; Conrad, Patricia A

    2009-05-12

    The goal of this study was to characterize the beta-hemolytic streptococci cultured from southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) stranded off the coast of California (USA) and to verify identifications made using the Lancefield system. Lancefield serotyping and biochemical analysis alone was inadequate for isolate characterization. Final identification was based on sequence analysis of a portion of the 16s ribosomal RNA gene from 12 of the 35 total isolates. The majority of isolates (10 of 12; 83.3%) were Streptococcus phocae and reacted with Lancefield group G and F antisera or were less frequently untypeable. The remaining isolates belonging to Lancefield group G were identified as S. dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis (2 of 12; 16.7%). This is the first report of S. phocae in southern sea otters and further evidence of S. phocae expressing cell surface antigens compatible with Lancefield group G typing.

  17. Challenges to sea otter recovery and conservation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ballachey, Brenda E.; Bodkin, James L.

    2015-01-01

    Similar to other species that in recent centuries experienced unregulated human exploitation, sea otters were extirpated throughout large portions of their historic range in the North Pacific. For most of the twentieth century, with cessation of the fur trade and because of concerted efforts at conservation, sea otters recovered much of their historic range and abundance. Late in the twentieth century, increased predation by killer whales in southwest Alaska drove sea otter populations to a few percentage points of their prior abundance, and one of the nation’s largest oil spills in south-central Alaska caused the death of several thousand animals and required more than two decades for recovery. In California, entanglement in fishing gear and environmental degradation, among other factors, have contributed to slow growth in sea otter abundance. We discuss the role of density dependence and spatial structuring of populations in reduced rates of sea otter recovery recently detected in the Northeast Pacific, and consider the potential effects of multiple low-level and cumulative threats on sea otter populations. The resilience demonstrated by sea otters over the past century will be tested in upcoming decades as human activities continue to degrade nearshore coastal areas of the North Pacific.

  18. Accumulation patterns of heavy metals and chlorinated hydrocarbons by sea otters, Enhydra lutris, in California. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Risebrough, R.W.

    1989-06-30

    Chemical contaminants and naturally occurring toxic compounds in the coastal ecosystem of California currently inhabited by sea otters, Enhydra lutris, do not appear to have, or have had, any effect on the status of the population. Ratios of pups to adults appear to be within the expected ranges and do not indicate any depressed productivity that might be caused by one or a combination of environmental toxicants. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), however, which cause nearly complete reproductive failures when fed at levels as low as 0.6 ppm in another member of the family Mustelidae, the mink, Mustela vison, were present in livers of a number of animals at higher levels than those associated with reproductive failure in mink. An interspecific difference in sensitivity, or relatively lower amounts of the more toxic PCB compounds in the sea otter population, is indicated. A decline in PCB (and DDE) levels along the California coast recorded in mussels, Mytilus californianus, and the ending of PCB uses reduce any potential threat to the otter population from PCB contamination.

  19. An unusual genotype of Toxoplasma gondii is common in California sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) and is a cause of mortality.

    PubMed

    Miller, M A; Grigg, M E; Kreuder, C; James, E R; Melli, A C; Crosbie, P R; Jessup, D A; Boothroyd, J C; Brownstein, D; Conrad, P A

    2004-03-09

    Toxoplasma gondii-associated meningoencephalitis is a significant disease of California sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), responsible for 16% of total mortality in fresh, beachcast carcasses. Toxoplasma gondii isolates were obtained from 35 California otters necropsied between 1998 and 2002. Based on multi-locus PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism and DNA sequencing at conserved genes (18S rDNA, ITS-1) and polymorphic genes (B1, SAG1, SAG3 and GRA6), two distinct genotypes were identified: type II and a novel genotype, here called type x, that possessed distinct alleles at three of the four polymorphic loci sequenced. The majority (60%) of sea otter T. gondii infections were of genotype x, with the remaining 40% being of genotype II. No type I or III genotypes were identified. Epidemiological methods were used to examine the relationship between isolated T. gondii genotype(s) and spatial and demographic risk factors, such as otter stranding location and sex, as well as specific outcomes related to pathogenicity, such as severity of brain inflammation on histopathology and T. gondii-associated mortality. Differences were identified with respect to T. gondii genotype and sea otter sex and stranding location along the California coast. Localised spatial clustering was detected for both type II (centred within Monterey Bay) and x (centred near Morro Bay)-infected otters. The Morro Bay cluster of type x-infected otters overlaps previously reported high-risk areas for sea otter infection and mortality due to T. gondii. Nine of the 12 otters that had T. gondii-associated meningoencephalitis as a primary cause of death were infected with type x parasites.

  20. Sea otter oil spill avoidance study

    SciTech Connect

    Davis, R.W.; Williams, T.M.; Awbrey, F.

    1988-04-01

    To determine whether acoustic, visual, or olfactory stimuli could be used to move sea otters out of an area in the event of an oil spill, the authors recorded the responses of sea otters to a variety of stimuli during captive studies in Alaska. These findings are similar to those of previous attempts to control the movements of sea otters and other marine mammals and birds. An alternative to herding is to capture otters in the vicinity of the spill and temporarily hold them in captivity. This approach is only practical if the number of otters in jeopardy is small (less than 60) and there is enough time to capture them. Based on the results of the study and previous attempts by the California Department of Fish and Game to herd sea otters, the authors do not think acoustic, visual, and olfactory stimuli are effective deterrents. In the absence of effective methods to keep sea otters out of an oil spill, the emphasis must remain on spill prevention, containment, and cleanup.

  1. Comparison of trace element concentrations in livers of diseased, emaciated and non-diseased southern sea otters from the California coast.

    PubMed

    Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Agusa, Tetsuro; Perrotta, Emily; Thomas, Nancy J; Tanabe, Shinsuke

    2006-12-01

    Infectious diseases have been implicated as a cause of high rates of adult mortality in southern sea otters. Exposure to environmental contaminants can compromise the immuno-competence of animals, predisposing them to infectious diseases. In addition to organic pollutants, certain trace elements can modulate the immune system in marine mammals. Nevertheless, reports of occurrence of trace elements, including toxic heavy metals, in sea otters are not available. In this study, concentrations of 20 trace elements (V, Cr, Mn, Co, Cu, Zn, Rb, Sr, Mo, Ag, Cd, In, Sn, Sb, Cs, Ba, Hg, Tl, Pb, and Bi) were measured in livers of southern sea otters found dead along the central California coast (n=80) from 1992 to 2002. Hepatic concentrations of trace elements were compared among sea otters that died from infectious diseases (n=27), those that died from non-infectious causes (n=26), and otters that died in emaciated condition with no evidence of another cause of death (n=27). Concentrations of essential elements in sea otters varied within an order of magnitude, whereas concentrations of non-essential elements varied by two to five orders of magnitude. Hepatic concentrations of Cu and Cd were 10- to 100-fold higher in the sea otters in this study than concentrations reported for any other marine mammal species. Concentrations of Mn, Co, Zn, and Cd were elevated in the diseased and emaciated sea otters relative to the non-diseased sea otters. Elevated concentrations of essential elements such as Mn, Zn, and Co in the diseased/emaciated sea otters suggest that induction of synthesis of metallothionein and superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme is occurring in these animals, as a means of protecting the cells from oxidative stress-related injuries. Trace element profiles in diseased and emaciated sea otters suggest that oxidative stress mediates the perturbation of essential-element concentrations. Elevated concentrations of toxic metals such as Cd, in addition to several other

  2. Comparison of trace element concentrations in livers of diseased, emaciated and non-diseased southern sea otters from the California coast

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kannan, K.; Agusa, T.; Perrotta, E.; Thomas, N.J.; Tanabe, S.

    2006-01-01

    Infectious diseases have been implicated as a cause of high rates of adult mortality in southern sea otters. Exposure to environmental contaminants can compromise the immuno-competence of animals, predisposing them to infectious diseases. In addition to organic pollutants, certain trace elements can modulate the immune system in marine mammals. Nevertheless, reports of occurrence of trace elements, including toxic heavy metals, in sea otters are not available. In this study, concentrations of 20 trace elements (V, Cr, Mn, Co, Cu, Zn, Rb, Sr, Mo, Ag, Cd, In, Sn, Sb, Cs, Ba, Hg, Tl, Pb, and Bi) were measured in livers of southern sea otters found dead along the central California coast (n = 80) from 1992 to 2002. Hepatic concentrations of trace elements were compared among sea otters that died from infectious diseases (n = 27), those that died from non-infectious causes (n = 26), and otters that died in emaciated condition with no evidence of another cause of death (n = 27). Concentrations of essential elements in sea otters varied within an order of magnitude, whereas concentrations of non-essential elements varied by two to five orders of magnitude. Hepatic concentrations of Cu and Cd were 10- to 100-fold higher in the sea otters in this study than concentrations reported for any other marine mammal species. Concentrations of Mn, Co, Zn, and Cd were elevated in the diseased and emaciated sea otters relative to the non-diseased sea otters. Elevated concentrations of essential elements such as Mn, Zn, and Co in the diseased/emaciated sea otters suggest that induction of synthesis of metallothionein and superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme is occurring in these animals, as a means of protecting the cells from oxidative stress-related injuries. Trace element profiles in diseased and emaciated sea otters suggest that oxidative stress mediates the perturbation of essential-element concentrations. Elevated concentrations of toxic metals such as Cd, in addition to several

  3. Oral papillomatosis caused by Enhydra lutris papillomavirus 1 (ElPV-1) in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) in California, USA.

    PubMed

    Ng, Terry Fei Fan; Miller, Melissa A; Kondov, Nikola O; Dodd, Erin M; Batac, Francesca; Manzer, Mike; Ives, Sarah; Saliki, Jeremiah T; Deng, Xutao; Delwart, Eric

    2015-04-01

    The southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is a threatened marine sentinel. During postmortem investigations of stranded sea otters from 2004 to 2013 in California, US, papillomas were detected in the oral cavity of at least seven otters via necropsy and histopathology. Next-generation sequencing of viral particles purified from a single papilloma revealed a novel papillomavirus, Enhydra lutris papillomavirus 1 (ElPV-1). The genome of ElPV-1 was obtained, representing the first fully sequenced viral genome from southern sea otters. Phylogenetic analysis of the entire L1 gene, as well as a concatenated protein identities plot of all papillomaviral genes revealed that ElPV-1 is a λ-papillomavirus, related to a raccoon papillomavirus (Procyon lotor papillomavirus type 1) and a canine oral papillomavirus. Immunohistochemical staining, using a cross-reactive bovine papillomavirus antibody, suggested that ElPV-1 is present in intranuclear inclusions and intracytoplasmic keratin granules. Virus-infected cells were scattered throughout the stratum granulosum and stratum spinosum of the gingival and buccal papillomas. Using ElPV-1-specific PCR, we confirmed viral DNA in oral papillomas from all seven stranded sea otters, with identical L1 sequences. This virus is associated with the development of oral papillomatosis in southern sea otters.

  4. Pathology of sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lipscomb, T.P.; Harris, Richard K.; Rebar, A.H.; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Haebler, Romona J.; Loughlin, Thomas R.

    1994-01-01

    In the months following the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), 994 sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from oil-spill-affected areas died (Doroff et al. 1993). Carcasses collected from these areas and otters that died in rehabilitation centers are included in this number. The actual number that died was probably much greater.Within days of the spill, the Exxon Company (USA) funded an effort to rehabilitate oil-contaminated sea otters (Davis 1990). Initially, clinical veterinarians working on the rehabilitation effort performed partial necropsies on some of the sea otters that died. Soon, veterinary pathologists from the University of Alaska and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided assistance. Later, rehabilitation centers were constructed and other veterinarians with special training in pathology were hired by Exxon to provide diagnostic support.In late April 1989, veterinary pathologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) assumed responsibility for pathologic evaluation of oil-spill-affected sea otters. The USFWS requested assistance from veterinary pathologists of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in June 1989. Eventually, as part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program, AFIP veterinary pathologists were asked to carry out histopathological studies of the tissue specimens collected by all parties and to perform necropsies on carcasses that had been collected and frozen. A veterinary clinical pathologist was requested to assess hematology and clinical chemistry findings in otters that had been held in the rehabilitation centers.In spite of the best efforts of many dedicated people working under extremely difficult conditions, there are significant limitations in the pathological studies. The absence of a detailed necropsy protocol and of full documentation of necropsy findings during the first several weeks after the spill resulted in important data being lost. Often, samples of all major organs were not collected. In some

  5. Accumulation pattern of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in sourthern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found stranded along coastal California, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nakata, H.; Kannan, K.; Jing, L.; Thomas, N.J.; Tanabe, S.; Giesy, J.P.

    1998-01-01

    Concentrations of PCBs, DDTs (p,p'-DDE, p,p'-DDD and p,p'-DDT), HCHs (α-, β-, γ-isomers), chlordanes (trans-chlordane, cis-chlordane, trans-nonachlor, cis-nonachlor and oxychlordane) and HCB (hexachlorobenzene were measured in liver, kidney and brain tissues of adult southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found stranded along coastal California, USA, during 1992–96. The contamination pattern of organochlorines in sea otters from several locations was in the order of DDTs > PCBs > > CHLs > HCHs > > HCB, whereas those from Monterey Harbor contained greater concentrations of PCBs than of DDTs. Hepatic concentrations of PCBs and DDTs were in the ranges of 58–8700 and 280–5900 ng/g, wet weight, respectively, which varied depending on the geographic location. Sea otters collected from Monterey Harbor contained the greatest concentrations of PCBs and DDTs. In general, accumulation of DDTs, CHLs and PCBs was greater in kidney than in liver, whereas that of HCHs was similar in both the tissues. The gender difference in organochlorine concentrations was less than those reported in cetaceans. The composition of DDTs, HCHs and CHLs compounds in sea otter tissues indicated no recent inputs of these compounds in coastal California. Sea otters that died from infectious diseases, neoplasia and emaciation contained higher concentrations of DDTs than those that died from trauma.

  6. Synopsis of the history of sea otter conservation in the United States

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Vanblaricom, Glenn R.

    2015-01-01

    In the late 1860s, declining US sea otter populations elicited concern because of prior excessive harvests. Congress mandated protection of Alaskan sea otters in 1868, but hunting continued unrestrained. The Fur Seal Treaty of 1911 (abrogated in 1941) protected sea otters in international waters, but was not applicable to most sea otter habitats and failed to terminate all legal sea otter harvests. Between 1941 and 1972 only the State of California was consistently engaged in sea otter conservation, based on a 1913 state law. Trends in cultural values toward protection of species based on imperiled status rather than economics led to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972), giving sea otters unambiguous protection in all US territorial waters. Sea otter habitat protection by the US government began in the 1890s. State marine protected areas potentially support sea otter conservation, particularly when paired with adjacent federal protected entities in or near sea otter habitat.

  7. Novel poxvirus infection in northern and southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni and Enhydra lutris neiris), Alaska and California, USA.

    PubMed

    Tuomi, Pamela A; Murray, Michael J; Garner, Michael M; Goertz, Caroline E C; Nordhausen, Robert W; Burek-Huntington, Kathleen A; Getzy, David M; Nielsen, Ole; Archer, Linda L; Maness, Heather T D; Wellehan, James F X; Waltzek, Thomas B

    2014-07-01

    Small superficially ulcerated skin lesions were observed between October 2009 and September 2011 during captive care of two orphaned sea otter pups: one northern (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) in Alaska and one southern (Enhydra lutris nereis) in California. Inclusions consistent with poxviral infection were diagnosed by histopathology in both cases. Virions consistent with poxvirus virions were seen on electron microscopy in the northern sea otter, and the virus was successfully propagated in cell culture. DNA extraction, pan-chordopoxviral PCR amplification, and sequencing of the DNA-dependent DNA polymerase gene revealed that both cases were caused by a novel AT-rich poxvirus. Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses found that the virus is divergent from other known poxviruses at a level consistent with a novel genus. These cases were self-limiting and did not appear to be associated with systemic illness. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a poxvirus in a mustelid species. The source of this virus, mode of transmission, zoonotic potential, and biological significance are undetermined.

  8. Studies of the effects of experimentally produced noise associated with oil and gas exploration and development on sea otters in California. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Riedman, M.L.

    1983-11-15

    During the winter 1983 tape-recorded industrial noises associated with offshore oil and gas operations were projected underwater at Soberanes Point, California. Seismic-exploration sounds were produced using a multiple air gun array (4000 cu. in) and a single air gun (100 cu. in) along a 10-15 km transect paralleling the coastline from Rocky Point to Yankee Point. The behavior, density, and distribution of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) within the vicinity of the sound projection area were not affected by the acoustic experiments. Foraging and diving behaviors of sea otters were normal and undisturbed. There were no movements of otters away from the sound source or out of the sound projection vicinity during either the winter or spring acoustic experiments.

  9. The use of quantitative models in sea otter conservation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M. Tim

    2015-01-01

    Sea otters are good indicators of ocean health. In addition, they are a keystone species, offering a stabilizing effect on ecosystem, controlling sea urchin populations that would otherwise inflict damage to kelp forest ecosystems. The kelp forest ecosystem is crucial for marine organisms and contains coastal erosion. With the concerns about the imperiled status of sea otter populations in California, Aleutian Archipelago and coastal areas of Russia and Japan, the last several years have shown growth of interest culturally and politically in the status and preservation of sea otter populations. Sea Otter Conservation brings together the vast knowledge of well-respected leaders in the field, offering insight into the more than 100 years of conservation and research that have resulted in recovery from near extinction. This publication assesses the issues influencing prospects for continued conservation and recovery of the sea otter populations and provides insight into how to handle future global changes.

  10. Sea otter oil-spill mitigation study

    SciTech Connect

    Davis, R.W.; Thomas, J.; Williams, T.M.; Kastelein, R.; Cornell, L.

    1986-05-01

    The objective of the study was to analyze the effectiveness of existing capture, transport, cleaning, and rehabilitation methods and develop new methods to reduce the impact of an accidental oil spill to California sea otters, resulting from the present conditions or from future Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas development in State or Federal waters. In addition, the study investigated whether or not a systematic difference in thermal conductivity existed between the pelts of Alaska and California Sea otters. This was done to assure that conclusions drawn from the oiling experiments carried out at Hubbs Marine Research Institute, Tetra Tech, Inc. contributed to the overall study by preparing a literature review and report on the fate and effects of oil dispersants and chemically dispersed oil.

  11. Biological impacts of translocated sea otters. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Ralls, K.; Siniff, D.B.; Doroff, A.; Mercure, A.

    1990-05-04

    Sea otters are one of the wildlife species most sensitive to oil spills. If an oil spill occurred in the southern part of the sea otter range in California, otters would probably be captured and released in an uncontaminated area to the north. However, if the relocated otters returned to the capture area while oil was still present, they might be contaminated. The main objective of the contract was to learn more about the behavior and movement patterns of sea otters relocated along the central California coast. The authors captured 21 otters and instrumented them with Temple-tag radio transmitters. Using radiotelemetry, we were able to follow the movements of 19 of these otters (18 males and 1 female). They were captured in the southern part of the range near Shell Beach and released about 291 km to the north (as measured on the 5-fathom line) at Moss Landing. None of the 10 otters held in pens for 48 hours prior to release returned to the capture area during the 26 to 89-day monitoring period. Five of the nine otters not held in pens prior to release returned to the capture area 13 to 46 days after release.

  12. Type X Toxoplasma gondii in a wild mussel and terrestrial carnivores from coastal California: new linkages between terrestrial mammals, runoff and toxoplasmosis of sea otters.

    PubMed

    Miller, M A; Miller, W A; Conrad, P A; James, E R; Melli, A C; Leutenegger, C M; Dabritz, H A; Packham, A E; Paradies, D; Harris, M; Ames, J; Jessup, D A; Worcester, K; Grigg, M E

    2008-09-01

    Sea otters in California are commonly infected with Toxoplasma gondii. A unique Type X strain is responsible for 72% of otter infections, but its prevalence in terrestrial animals and marine invertebrates inhabiting the same area was unknown. Between 2000 and 2005, 45 terrestrial carnivores (lions, bobcats, domestic cats and foxes) and 1396 invertebrates (mussels, clams and worms) were screened for T. gondii using PCR and DNA sequencing to determine the phylogeographic distribution of T. gondii archetypal I, II, III and Type X genotypes. Marine bivalves have been shown to concentrate T. gondii oocysts in the laboratory, but a comprehensive survey of wild invertebrates has not been reported. A California mussel from an estuary draining into Monterey Bay was confirmed positive for Type X T. gondii by multilocus PCR and DNA sequencing at the B1 and SAG1 loci. This mussel was collected from nearshore marine waters just after the first significant rainfall event in the fall of 2002. Of 45 carnivores tested at the B1, SAG1, and GRA6 typing loci, 15 had PCR-confirmed T. gondii infection; 11 possessed alleles consistent with infection by archetypal Type I, II or III strains and 4 possessed alleles consistent with Type X T. gondii infection. No non-canonical alleles were identified. The four T. gondii strains with Type X alleles were identified from two mountain lions, a bobcat and a fox residing in coastal watersheds adjacent to sea otter habitat near Monterey Bay and Estero Bay. Confirmation of Type X T. gondii in coastal-dwelling felids, canids, a marine bivalve and nearshore-dwelling sea otters supports the hypotheses that feline faecal contamination is flowing from land to sea through surface runoff, and that otters can be infected with T. gondii via consumption of filter-feeding marine invertebrates.

  13. Individual dietary specialization and dive behaviour in the California sea otter: Using archival time-depth data to detect alternative foraging strategies

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M.T.; Costa, D.P.; Estes, J.A.; Wieringa, N.

    2007-01-01

    The existence of individual prey specializations has been reported for an ever-growing number of taxa, and has important ramifications for our understanding of predator-prey dynamics. We use the California sea otter population as a case study to validate the use of archival time-depth data to detect and measure differences in foraging behaviour and diet. We collected observational foraging data from radio-tagged sea otters that had been equipped with Mk9 time depth recorders (TDRs, Wildlife Computers, Redmond, WA). After recapturing the study animals and retrieving the TDRs it was possible to compare the two data types, by matching individual dives from the TDR record with observational data and thus examining behavioural correlates of capture success and prey species. Individuals varied with respect to prey selection, aggregating into one of three distinct dietary specializations. A number of TDR-derived parameters, particularly dive depth and post-dive surface interval, differed predictably between specialist types. A combination of six dive parameters was particularly useful for discriminating between specialist types, and when incorporated into a multivariate cluster analysis, these six parameters resulted in classification of 13 adult female sea otters into three clusters that corresponded almost perfectly to the diet-based classification (1 out of 13 animals was misclassified). Thus based solely on quantifiable traits of time-depth data that have been collected over an appropriate period (in this case 1 year per animal), it was possible to assign female sea otters to diet type with >90% accuracy. TDR data can thus be used as a tool to measure the degree of individual specialization in sea otter populations, a conclusion that will likely apply to other diving marine vertebrates as well. Our ultimate goals must be both to understand the causes of individual specialization, and to incorporate such variation into models of population- and community-level food web

  14. Individual dietary specialization and dive behaviour in the California sea otter: Using archival time depth data to detect alternative foraging strategies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tinker, M. T.; Costa, D. P.; Estes, J. A.; Wieringa, N.

    2007-02-01

    The existence of individual prey specializations has been reported for an ever-growing number of taxa, and has important ramifications for our understanding of predator-prey dynamics. We use the California sea otter population as a case study to validate the use of archival time-depth data to detect and measure differences in foraging behaviour and diet. We collected observational foraging data from radio-tagged sea otters that had been equipped with Mk9 time depth recorders (TDRs, Wildlife Computers, Redmond, WA). After recapturing the study animals and retrieving the TDRs it was possible to compare the two data types, by matching individual dives from the TDR record with observational data and thus examining behavioural correlates of capture success and prey species. Individuals varied with respect to prey selection, aggregating into one of three distinct dietary specializations. A number of TDR-derived parameters, particularly dive depth and post-dive surface interval, differed predictably between specialist types. A combination of six dive parameters was particularly useful for discriminating between specialist types, and when incorporated into a multivariate cluster analysis, these six parameters resulted in classification of 13 adult female sea otters into three clusters that corresponded almost perfectly to the diet-based classification (1 out of 13 animals was misclassified). Thus based solely on quantifiable traits of time-depth data that have been collected over an appropriate period (in this case 1 year per animal), it was possible to assign female sea otters to diet type with >90% accuracy. TDR data can thus be used as a tool to measure the degree of individual specialization in sea otter populations, a conclusion that will likely apply to other diving marine vertebrates as well. Our ultimate goals must be both to understand the causes of individual specialization, and to incorporate such variation into models of population- and community-level food web

  15. THE HIGH COST OF MOTHERHOOD: END-LACTATION SYNDROME IN SOUTHERN SEA OTTERS (ENHYDRA LUTRIS NEREIS) ON THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA COAST, USA.

    PubMed

    Chinn, Sarah M; Miller, Melissa A; Tinker, M Tim; Staedler, Michelle M; Batac, Francesca I; Dodd, Erin M; Henkel, Laird A

    2016-04-28

    Sea otters ( Enhydra lutris ) have exceptionally high energetic requirements, which nearly double during lactation and pup care. Thus, females are extremely vulnerable to caloric insufficiency. Despite a number of compensatory strategies, the metabolic challenge of reproduction culminates in numerous maternal deaths annually. Massive depletion of energy reserves results in a case presentation that we define as end-lactation syndrome (ELS), characterized by moderate to severe emaciation not attributable to a concurrent, independent disease process in females dying during late pup care or postweaning. We compiled detailed data for 108 adult female southern sea otters ( Enhydra lutris nereis) examined postmortem that stranded in California, US, 2005-12, and assessed pathology, reproductive status, and the location and timing of stranding. We introduce simple, grossly apparent, standardized physical criteria to assess reproductive stage for female sea otters. We also describe ELS, examine associated risk factors, and highlight female life history strategies that likely optimize reproduction and survival. Our data suggest that females can reset both the timing and energetic demands of reproduction through fetal loss, pup abandonment, or early weaning as part of specific physiologic checkpoints during each reproductive cycle. Females appear to preload nutritionally during delayed implantation and gestation to increase fitness and reproductive success. We found that ELS was a major cause of death, affecting 56% of enrolled adult females. Peak ELS prevalence occurred in late spring, possibly reflecting the population trend toward fall/winter pupping. Increasing age and number of pregnancies were associated with a higher risk of ELS. Although the proportion of ELS females was highest in areas with dense sea otter populations, cases were recovered throughout the range, suggesting that death from ELS is associated with, but not solely caused by, population resource limitation.

  16. The high cost of motherhood: End-lactation syndrome in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) on the central California, USA, coast

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Chinn, Sarah S; Miller, Melissa A.; Tinker, M. Tim; Staedler, Michelle M.; Batac, Francesca I.; Dodd, Erin M.; Henkel, Laird A.

    2016-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have exceptionally high energetic requirements, which nearly double during lactation and pup care. Thus, females are extremely vulnerable to caloric insufficiency. Despite a number of compensatory strategies, the metabolic challenge of reproduction culminates in numerous maternal deaths annually. Massive depletion of energy reserves results in a case presentation that we define as end-lactation syndrome (ELS), characterized by moderate to severe emaciation not attributable to a concurrent, independent disease process in females dying during late pup care or postweaning. We compiled detailed data for 108 adult female southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) examined postmortem that stranded in California, US, 2005–12, and assessed pathology, reproductive status, and the location and timing of stranding. We introduce simple, grossly apparent, standardized physical criteria to assess reproductive stage for female sea otters. We also describe ELS, examine associated risk factors, and highlight female life history strategies that likely optimize reproduction and survival. Our data suggest that females can reset both the timing and energetic demands of reproduction through fetal loss, pup abandonment, or early weaning as part of specific physiologic checkpoints during each reproductive cycle. Females appear to preload nutritionally during delayed implantation and gestation to increase fitness and reproductive success. We found that ELS was a major cause of death, affecting 56% of enrolled adult females. Peak ELS prevalence occurred in late spring, possibly reflecting the population trend toward fall/winter pupping. Increasing age and number of pregnancies were associated with a higher risk of ELS. Although the proportion of ELS females was highest in areas with dense sea otter populations, cases were recovered throughout the range, suggesting that death from ELS is associated with, but not solely caused by, population resource limitation.

  17. Assessment of past, present, and future risks of oil spills in and near the present sea otter range in California. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Tinney, R.T. Jr

    1983-06-01

    In 1977 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Sea Otter in California as a threatened species, primarily because of the potential risk posed to the population by oil spills. This report examines the extent of the oil spill risk as it existed in 1977, as it exists now, and as it is expected to exist in 1988. Included are risk-related factors such as offshore oil exploration, development, production, and transportation, oil spill response capability, coastwise transportation of crude oil and refined products, and improved offshore technology.

  18. Sea otter mortality in fish and shellfish traps: Estimating potential impacts and exploring possible solutions

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hatfield, B.B.; Ames, J.A.; Estes, J.A.; Tinker, M.T.; Johnson, A.B.; Staedler, M.M.; Harris, M.D.

    2011-01-01

    Sea otters Enhydra lutris can be bycaught and drowned in fishing pots and traps, which may pose a threat to the welfare of otter populations. We explored this potential problem and its solutions using a wide variety of analyses. We exposed live California (USA) sea otters to finfish traps, lobster traps, and mock Dungeness crab traps in captive trials and found that the animals attempted to enter the circular and rectangular fyke openings, with some becoming entrapped. Using both live and dead sea otters, we found that a 3 ?? 9 inch (7.6 ?? 22.9 cm) fyke opening (1 inch narrower than the 4 ?? 9 inch [10.2 ?? 22.9 cm] openings currently used in California's commercial Dungeness crab fishery) would exclude most free-living (i.e. weaned from their mothers) otters while permitting the undiminished capture of crabs. Observer programs do not currently exist in California for these fisheries, so we calculated the effort required by an observer program to document sea otter bycatch over a range of hypothetical levels and evaluated the impact of those mortality rates on population growth. These analyses demonstrate that significant mortality from bycatch might easily go undetected, even with seemingly high levels of observer effort. As sea otters reoccupy portions of their former habitat in California, co-occurrence with finfish and shellfish traps with relatively large fyke openings will increase. ?? Inter-Research 2011.

  19. Clinical pathology and assessment of pathogen exposure in southern and Alaskan sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hanni, K.D.; Mazet, J.A.K.; Gulland, F.M.D.; Estes, James; Staedler, M.; Murray, M.J.; Miller, M.; Jessup, David A.

    2003-01-01

    The southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population in California (USA) and the Alaskan sea otter (E. lutris kenyoni) population in the Aleutian Islands (USA) chain have recently declined. In order to evaluate disease as a contributing factor to the declines, health assessments of these two sea otter populations were conducted by evaluating hematologic and/or serum biochemical values and exposure to six marine and terrestrial pathogens using blood collected during ongoing studies from 1995 through 2000. Samples from 72 free-ranging Alaskan, 78 free-ranging southern, and (for pathogen exposure only) 41 debilitated southern sea otters in rehabilitation facilities were evaluated and compared to investigate regional differences. Serum chemistry and hematology values did not indicate a specific disease process as a cause for the declines. Statistically significant differences were found between free-ranging adult southern and Alaskan population mean serum levels of creatinine kinase, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, calcium, cholesterol, creatinine, glucose, phosphorous, total bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen, and sodium. These were likely due to varying parasite loads, contaminant exposures, and physiologic or nutrition statuses. No free-ranging sea otters had signs of disease at capture, and prevalences of exposure to calicivirus, Brucella spp., and Leptospira spp. were low. The high prevalence (35%) of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in free-ranging southern sea otters, lack of antibodies to this parasite in Alaskan sea otters, and the pathogen's propensity to cause mortality in southern sea otters suggests that this parasite may be important to sea otter population dynamics in California but not in Alaska. The evidence for exposure to pathogens of public health importance (e.g., Leptospira spp., T. gondii) in the southern sea otter population, and the nai??vete?? of both populations to other pathogens (e

  20. Clinical pathology and assessment of pathogen exposure in southern and Alaskan sea otters.

    PubMed

    Hanni, Krista D; Mazet, Jonna A K; Gulland, Frances M D; Estes, James; Staedler, Michelle; Murray, Michael J; Miller, Melissa; Jessup, David A

    2003-10-01

    The southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population in California (USA) and the Alaskan sea otter (E. lutris kenyoni) population in the Aleutian Islands (USA) chain have recently declined. In order to evaluate disease as a contributing factor to the declines, health assessments of these two sea otter populations were conducted by evaluating hematologic and/or serum biochemical values and exposure to six marine and terrestrial pathogens using blood collected during ongoing studies from 1995 through 2000. Samples from 72 free-ranging Alaskan, 78 free-ranging southern, and (for pathogen exposure only) 41 debilitated southern sea otters in rehabilitation facilities were evaluated and compared to investigate regional differences. Serum chemistry and hematology values did not indicate a specific disease process as a cause for the declines. Statistically significant differences were found between free-ranging adult southern and Alaskan population mean serum levels of creatinine kinase, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, calcium, cholesterol, creatinine, glucose, phosphorous, total bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen, and sodium. These were likely due to varying parasite loads, contaminant exposures, and physiologic or nutrition statuses. No free-ranging sea otters had signs of disease at capture, and prevalences of exposure to calicivirus, Brucella spp., and Leptospira spp. were low. The high prevalence (35%) of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in free-ranging southern sea otters, lack of antibodies to this parasite in Alaskan sea otters, and the pathogen's propensity to cause mortality in southern sea otters suggests that this parasite may be important to sea otter population dynamics in California but not in Alaska. The evidence for exposure to pathogens of public health importance (e.g., Leptospira spp., T. gondii) in the southern sea otter population, and the naïveté of both populations to other pathogens (e.g., morbillivirus

  1. Novel Bartonella infection in northern and southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni and Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Carrasco, Sebastian E; Chomel, Bruno B; Gill, Verena A; Kasten, Rickie W; Maggi, Ricardo G; Breitschwerdt, Edward B; Byrne, Barbara A; Burek-Huntington, Kathleen A; Miller, Melissa A; Goldstein, Tracey; Mazet, Jonna A K

    2014-06-04

    Since 2002, vegetative valvular endocarditis (VVE), septicemia and meningoencephalitis have contributed to an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) of northern sea otters in southcentral Alaska. Streptococcal organisms were commonly isolated from vegetative lesions and organs from these sea otters. Bartonella infection has also been associated with bacteremia and VVE in terrestrial mammals, but little is known regarding its pathogenic significance in marine mammals. Our study evaluated whether Streptococcus bovis/equinus (SB/E) and Bartonella infections were associated with UME-related disease characterized by VVE and septicemia in Alaskan sea otter carcasses recovered 2004-2008. These bacteria were also evaluated in southern sea otters in California. Streptococcus bovis/equinus were cultured from 45% (23/51) of northern sea otter heart valves, and biochemical testing and sequencing identified these isolates as Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli. One-third of sea otter hearts were co-infected with Bartonella spp. Our analysis demonstrated that SB/E was strongly associated with UME-related disease in northern sea otters (P<0.001). While Bartonella infection was also detected in 45% (23/51) and 10% (3/30) of heart valves of northern and southern sea otters examined, respectively, it was not associated with disease. Phylogenetic analysis of the Bartonella ITS region allowed detection of two Bartonella species, one novel species closely related to Bartonella spp. JM-1, B. washoensis and Candidatus B. volans and another molecularly identical to B. henselae. Our findings help to elucidate the role of pathogens in northern sea otter mortalities during this UME and suggested that Bartonella spp. is common in sea otters from Alaska and California.

  2. Genetic diversity among sea otter isolates of Toxoplasma gondii

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sundar, N.; Cole, R.A.; Thomas, N.J.; Majumdar, D.; Dubey, J.P.; Su, C.

    2008-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have been reported to become infected with Toxoplasma gondii and at times succumb to clinical disease. Here, we determined genotypes of 39 T. gondii isolates from 37 sea otters in two geographically distant locations (25 from California and 12 from Washington). Six genotypes were identified using 10 PCR-RFLP genetic markers including SAG1, SAG2, SAG3, BTUB, GRA6, c22-8, c29-2, L358, PK1, and Apico, and by DNA sequencing of loci SAG1 and GRA6 in 13 isolates. Of these 39 isolates, 13 (33%) were clonal Type II which can be further divided into two groups at the locus Apico. Two of the 39 isolates had Type II alleles at all loci except a Type I allele at locus L358. One isolate had Type II alleles at all loci except the Type I alleles at loci L358 and Apico. One isolate had Type III alleles at all loci except Type II alleles at SAG2 and Apico. Two sea otter isolates had a mixed infection. Twenty-one (54%) isolates had an unique allele at SAG1 locus. Further genotyping or DNA sequence analysis for 18 of these 21 isolates at loci SAG1 and GRA6 revealed that there were two different genotypes, including the previously identified Type X (four isolates) and a new genotype named Type A (14 isolates). The results from this study suggest that the sea otter isolates are genetically diverse.

  3. Profiles of polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, organochlorine pesticides and butlyns in southern sea otters and their prey

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kannan, K.; Kajiwara, N.; Watanabe, M. E.; Nakata, H.; Thomas, N.J.; Stephenson, M.; Jessup, David A.; Tanabe, S.

    2004-01-01

    Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, and butyltins were measured in sea otters and selected prey species (invertebrates) collected from the California (USA) coast. Polychlorinated biphenyls, DDTs (sum of p,pa??-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene [p,pa??-DDE], p,pa??-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane [p,pa??-DDD], and p,pa??-DDT), and butyltins were the major contaminants found in sea otters and their prey. Lipid-normalized concentrations of PCBs and DDT in sea otter livers were 60- and 240-fold greater than those found in the prey. Great biomagnification of PCBs and DDT in sea otters is suggested to result from their high per-capita intake of diet compared with those of other marine mammals. Profiles of PCB congeners in sea otters and prey species suggest a great capacity of sea otters to biotransform lower-chlorinated congeners. Sea otters seem to possess a greater ability than cetaceans to metabolize PCBs. The 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents of non- and mono-ortho PCBs in sea otters and certain prey species were at or above the theoretical threshold for toxic effects.

  4. Profiles of polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, organochlorine pesticides, and butyltins in southern sea otters and their prey.

    PubMed

    Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Kajiwara, Natsuko; Watanabe, Mafumi; Nakata, Haruhiko; Thomas, Nancy J; Stephenson, Mark; Jessup, David A; Tanabe, Shinsuke

    2004-01-01

    Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, and butyltins were measured in sea otters and selected prey species (invertebrates) collected from the California (USA) coast. Polychlorinated biphenyls, DDTs (sum of p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene [p,p'-DDE], p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane [p,p'-DDD], and p,p'-DDT), and butyltins were the major contaminants found in sea otters and their prey. Lipid-normalized concentrations of PCBs and DDT in sea otter livers were 60- and 240-fold greater than those found in the prey. Great biomagnification of PCBs and DDT in sea otters is suggested to result from their high per-capita intake of diet compared with those of other marine mammals. Profiles of PCB congeners in sea otters and prey species suggest a great capacity of sea otters to biotransform lower-chlorinated congeners. Sea otters seem to possess a greater ability than cetaceans to metabolize PCBs. The 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents of non- and mono-ortho PCBs in sea otters and certain prey species were at or above the theoretical threshold for toxic effects.

  5. Association between perfluorinated compounds and pathological conditions in southern sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kannan, K.; Perrotta, E.; Thomas, N.J.

    2006-01-01

    Concentrations of four perfluorinated contaminants, including perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), were measured in liver tissue from 80 adult female sea otters collected from the California coast during 1992a??2002. Concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were in the ranges of <1a??884 and <5a??147 ng/g, wet wt, respectively. Concentrations of PFOA in the livers of these sea otters were among the highest values reported for marine mammals to date. Liver tissue from 6 male sea otters also was analyzed and contained significantly higher concentrations of PFOS than did tissues from female otters. To examine the association between exposures and potential effects, concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were compared among the adult female otters that died from infectious diseases, noninfectious causes, and from apparent emaciation. Concentrations of both PFOA and PFOS were significantly higher in sea otters in the infectious disease category than in the noninfectious category. Concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were not significantly different between noninfectious and emaciated otters, suggesting that the poor nutritive (body) status of emaciated otters did not affect the concentrations of perfluorochemicals in livers. Concentrations of PFOA increased significantly from 1992 to 2002, whereas PFOS concentrations increased from 1992 to 1998 and then decreased after 2000. Significant association between infectious diseases and elevated concentrations of PFOS/PFOA in the livers of sea otters is a cause for concern and suggests the need for further studies.

  6. Association between perfluorinated compounds and pathological conditions in southern sea otters.

    PubMed

    Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Perrotta, Emily; Thomas, Nancy J

    2006-08-15

    Concentrations of four perfluorinated contaminants, including perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), were measured in liver tissue from 80 adult female sea otters collected from the California coast during 1992-2002. Concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were in the ranges of <1-884 and <5-147 ng/g, wet wt, respectively. Concentrations of PFOA in the livers of these sea otters were among the highest values reported for marine mammals to date. Liver tissue from 6 male sea otters also was analyzed and contained significantly higher concentrations of PFOS than did tissues from female otters. To examine the association between exposures and potential effects, concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were compared among the adult female otters that died from infectious diseases, noninfectious causes, and from apparent emaciation. Concentrations of both PFOA and PFOS were significantly higher in sea otters in the infectious disease category than in the noninfectious category. Concentrations of PFOS and PFOA were not significantly different between noninfectious and emaciated otters, suggesting that the poor nutritive (body) status of emaciated otters did not affectthe concentrations of perfluorochemicals in livers. Concentrations of PFOA increased significantly from 1992 to 2002, whereas PFOS concentrations increased from 1992to 1998 and then decreased after 2000. Significant association between infectious diseases and elevated concentrations of PFOS/PFOA in the livers of sea otters is a cause for concern and suggests the need for further studies.

  7. Enteric bacterial pathogen detection in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) is associated with coastal urbanization and freshwater runoff.

    PubMed

    Miller, Melissa A; Byrne, Barbara A; Jang, Spencer S; Dodd, Erin M; Dorfmeier, Elene; Harris, Michael D; Ames, Jack; Paradies, David; Worcester, Karen; Jessup, David A; Miller, Woutrina A

    2010-01-01

    Although protected for nearly a century, California's sea otters have been slow to recover, in part due to exposure to fecally-associated protozoal pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona. However, potential impacts from exposure to fecal bacteria have not been systematically explored. Using selective media, we examined feces from live and dead sea otters from California for specific enteric bacterial pathogens (Campylobacter, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, C. difficile and Escherichia coli O157:H7), and pathogens endemic to the marine environment (Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus and Plesiomonas shigelloides). We evaluated statistical associations between detection of these pathogens in otter feces and demographic or environmental risk factors for otter exposure, and found that dead otters were more likely to test positive for C. perfringens, Campylobacter and V. parahaemolyticus than were live otters. Otters from more urbanized coastlines and areas with high freshwater runoff (near outflows of rivers or streams) were more likely to test positive for one or more of these bacterial pathogens. Other risk factors for bacterial detection in otters included male gender and fecal samples collected during the rainy season when surface runoff is maximal. Similar risk factors were reported in prior studies of pathogen exposure for California otters and their invertebrate prey, suggesting that land-sea transfer and/or facilitation of pathogen survival in degraded coastal marine habitat may be impacting sea otter recovery. Because otters and humans share many of the same foods, our findings may also have implications for human health.

  8. Vitamin A deficiency and hepatic retinol levels in sea otters, Enhydra lutris.

    PubMed

    St Leger, Judy A; Righton, Alison L; Nilson, Erika M; Fascetti, Andrea J; Miller, Melissa A; Tuomi, Pamela A; Goertz, Caroline E C; Puschner, Birgit

    2011-03-01

    Vitamin A deficiency has rarely been reported in captive or free-ranging wildlife species. Necropsy findings in two captively housed southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) included irregular thickening of the calvaria characterized by diffuse hyperostoses on the internal surface. One animal also had moderate squamous metaplasia of the seromucinous glands of the nose. There was no measurable retinol in the liver of either sea otter. For comparison, hepatic retinol concentration was determined for 23 deceased free-ranging southern and northern (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) sea otters from California and Alaska. Free-ranging otters were found to have similar hepatic retinol concentrations (316 +/- 245 mg/kg wet weight) regardless of their location and subspecies. All of these values were significantly higher than the levels in the affected animals. Consumption of a diet with very low vitamin A concentrations and noncompliance in daily supplementation are hypothesized as the causes of vitamin A deficiency in these two sea otters.

  9. Patterns of mortality in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) from 1998-2001.

    PubMed

    Kreuder, C; Miller, M A; Jessup, D A; Lowenstine, L J; Harris, M D; Ames, J A; Carpenter, T E; Conrad, P A; Mazet, J A

    2003-07-01

    Detailed postmortem examination of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found along the California (USA) coast has provided an exceptional opportunity to understand factors influencing survival in this threatened marine mammal species. In order to evaluate recent trends in causes of mortality, the demographic and geographic distribution of causes of death in freshly deceased beachcast sea otters necropsied from 1998-2001 were evaluated. Protozoal encephalitis, acanthocephalan-related disease, shark attack, and cardiac disease were identified as common causes of death in sea otters examined. While infection with acanthocephalan parasites was more likely to cause death in juvenile otters, Toxoplasma gondii encephalitis, shark attack, and cardiac disease were more common in prime-aged adult otters. Cardiac disease is a newly recognized cause of mortality in sea otters and T. gondii encephalitis was significantly associated with this condition. Otters with fatal shark bites were over three times more likely to have pre-existing T. gondii encephalitis suggesting that shark attack, which is a long-recognized source of mortality in otters, may be coupled with a recently recognized disease in otters. Spatial clusters of cause-specific mortality were detected for T. gondii encephalitis (in Estero Bay), acanthocephalan peritonitis (in southern Monterey Bay), and shark attack (from Santa Cruz to Point Año Nuevo). Diseases caused by parasites, bacteria, or fungi and diseases without a specified etiology were the primary cause of death in 63.8% of otters examined. Parasitic disease alone caused death in 38.1% of otters examined. This pattern of mortality, observed predominantly in juvenile and prime-aged adult southern sea otters, has negative implications for the overall health and recovery of this population.

  10. Enteric bacterial pathogen detection in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) is associated with coastal urbanization and freshwater runoff

    PubMed Central

    Miller, Melissa A.; Byrne, Barbara A.; Jang, Spencer S.; Dodd, Erin M.; Dorfmeier, Elene; Harris, Michael D.; Ames, Jack; Paradies, David; Worcester, Karen; Jessup, David A.; Miller, Woutrina A.

    2009-01-01

    Although protected for nearly a century, California’s sea otters have been slow to recover, in part due to exposure to fecally-associated protozoal pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona. However, potential impacts from exposure to fecal bacteria have not been systematically explored. Using selective media, we examined feces from live and dead sea otters from California for specific enteric bacterial pathogens (Campylobacter, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, C. difficile and Escherichia coli O157:H7), and pathogens endemic to the marine environment (Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus and Plesiomonas shigelloides). We evaluated statistical associations between detection of these pathogens in otter feces and demographic or environmental risk factors for otter exposure, and found that dead otters were more likely to test positive for C. perfringens, Campylobacter and V. parahaemolyticus than were live otters. Otters from more urbanized coastlines and areas with high freshwater runoff (near outflows of rivers or streams) were more likely to test positive for one or more of these bacterial pathogens. Other risk factors for bacterial detection in otters included male gender and fecal samples collected during the rainy season when surface runoff is maximal. Similar risk factors were reported in prior studies of pathogen exposure for California otters and their invertebrate prey, suggesting that land-sea transfer and/or facilitation of pathogen survival in degraded coastal marine habitat may be impacting sea otter recovery. Because otters and humans share many of the same foods, our findings may also have implications for human health. PMID:19720009

  11. Sea otters in a dirty ocean.

    PubMed

    Jessup, David A; Miller, Melissa A; Kreuder-Johnson, Chris; Conrad, Patricia A; Tinker, M Timothy; Estes, James; Mazet, Jonna A K

    2007-12-01

    The connection between the health of humans, animals, and the environments in which they live have been well recognized and have recently been referred to as one health, one medicine. An example of the interconnectedness of human, animal, and ecosystem health is provided by the situation facing southern sea otters off the US Pacific coast.

  12. Sea otter population structure and ecology in Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Monson, Daniel H.

    2002-01-01

    Sea otters are the only fully marine otter. They share a common ancestry with the Old World land otters, but their route of dispersal to the New World is uncertain. The historic range of the species is along the northern Pacific Ocean rim, between central Baja California and the islands of northern Japan. Because they forage almost exclusively on bottom-dwelling marine invertebrates such as clams, snails, crabs, and sea urchins, they predominantly occur near shore. Their offshore distribution is limited by their diving ability; although they are capable of diving to more than 100 meters deep, most of their feeding takes place between the shoreline and depths of 40 meters. They are social animals, generally resting in protected bays or kelp forests in groups, commonly referred to as rafts. Because they are gregarious, possess a fine fur, and occur primarily near shore, they have been exploited by humans for as long as they have co-occupied coastal marine communities.During the late Pleistocene, glacial advances and retreats in the northern latitudes likely influenced genetic exchange within the sea otter’s northern range. When the glaciers were at their maximum, ice sheets extended over large coastal areas, isolating sea otter populations and causing local extinctions. During periods of glacial retreat, sea otters likely recolonized the newly available habitats, allowing exchange of individuals and gene flow between populations.Beginning in about 1750, sea otter populations underwent dramatic declines as a direct result of commercial harvest for their furs. Explorations by Vitus Bering led to the discovery of abundant sea otter populations in the Aleutian Islands. The early harvest, conducted by Russians with enslaved Aleut hunters, began in the eastern Aleutians. Eventually the harvest became multinational and contributed significantly to the exploration and settlement of the North Pacific coastline by Europeans. There were two distinct periods of harvest

  13. 76 FR 68393 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Termination of the Southern Sea Otter...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-11-04

    ...; Termination of the Southern Sea Otter Translocation Program; Revised Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Translocation of Southern Sea Otters AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION... draft supplemental environmental impact statement on the translocation of southern sea otters...

  14. Sea otter research methods and tools

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Maldini, Daniela; Calkins, Donald; Atkinson, Shannon; Meehan, Rosa

    2004-01-01

    Sea otters possess physical characteristics and life history attributes that provide both opportunity and constraint to their study. Because of their relatively limited diving ability they occur in nearshore marine habitats that are usually viewable from shore, allowing direct observation of most behaviors. Because sea otters live nearshore and forage on benthic invertebrates, foraging success and diet are easily measured. Because they rely almost exclusively on their pelage for insulation, which requires frequent grooming, successful application of external tags or instruments has been limited to attachments in the interdigital webbing of the hind flippers. Techniques to surgically implant instruments into the intraperitoneal cavity are well developed and routinely applied. Because they have relatively small home ranges and rest in predictable areas, they can be recaptured with some predictability using closed-circuit scuba diving technology. The purpose of this summary is to identify some of the approaches, methods, and tools that are currently engaged for the study of sea otters, and to suggest potential avenues for applying advancing technologies.

  15. Status and trends of sea otters in the northern Pacific Ocean

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Estes, James A.; Jameson, Ronald J.; LaRoe, E.T.; Farris, G.S.; Puckett, C.E.; Doran, P.D.; Mac, M.J.

    1995-01-01

    About 250 years ago sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were distributed continuously from central Baja California, north and west along the Pacific Rim to Machatka Peninsula in Russia, and south along the Kuril Island to northern Japan (Kenyon 1969; Fig. 1a). Several hundred thousand sea otters may have occurred in the north Pacific region when commercial hunting began in the 18th century (Riedman and Estes 1990). At least two attributes of the sea otter have influenced humans, likely for as long as they have resided together along the coast of the north Pacific Ocean. First, sea otters rely on a dense fur, among the finest in the world, for insulation in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. The demand for sea otter fur led to their near extinction in the 19th century. The fur harvest, begun about 1740 and halted by international treaty in 1911, left surviving colonies, each likely numbering less than a few hundred animals, in California, south-central Alaska, and the Aleutian, Medney, and Kuril Islands (Fig. 1a). These individuals provided the nucleus for the recovery of the species. Today more than 100,000 sea otters occur throughout about 75% of their original range (fig. 1b). Immigration has resulted in near-complete occupation of the Aleutian and Kuril archipelagos and the Alaska peninsula. Successful translocations have resulted in viable populations in southeast Alaska, Washington, and British Columbia. Large amounts of unoccupied habitat remain along the coasts of Russia, Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The second potential source of conflict between sea otters and humans is that sea otters prey on and often limit some benthic invertebrate populations. Because some of these invertebrates are aso used by humans (Estes and VanBlaricom 1985), human perceptions about the effects of sea otter foraging on invertebrates sometimes differ. By limiting populations of herbivorous invertebrates (e.g., sea urchins [Echinoidea]) otters help maintain the integrity of

  16. Activity patterns and time budgets of the declining sea otter population at Amchitka Island, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gelatt, Thomas S.; Siniff, Donald B.; Estes, James A.

    2002-01-01

    Time budgets of predators may reflect population status if time spent foraging varies with local prey abun- dance. We assumed that the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population at Amchitka Island, Alaska, USA, had been at equilibrium since the early 1960s and collected time budgets of otters to be used to represent future conditions of currently expanding sea otter populations. We used radiotelemetry to monitor activity-time budgets of otters from August 1992 to March 1994. Sea otter activity was directly linked to sex, age, weather condition, season, and time of day. Sea otters differed in percent time foraging among cohorts but not within cohorts. Percent time foraging ranged from 21% for females with very young (≤ 3weeks of age) dependent pups to 52% for females with old (≥10 weeks of age) pups. Otters foraged more and hauled out more as local sea conditions worsened. Adult males spent less time foraging during winter and spring, consistent with seasonal changes in prey selection. Time spent for- aging was similar to that reported for otters in California and an established population in Prince William Sound, Alaska, but greater than that of otters in recently established populations in Oregon and Alaska. Despite current evidence indicating that the population was in decline during our study, we were unable to recognize this change using time budgets. Our results illustrate the importance of stratifying analyses of activity patterns by age and sex cohorts and the complexity inherent in comparisons of behavioral data between different populations relying on distinct prey bases.

  17. Sarcocystis neurona retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Sarcocystis neurona is an important cause of fatal disease in sea otters in the USA. Encephalitis is the predominant lesion and parasites are confined to the central nervous system and muscles. Here we report retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) found dead on Copalis Beach, WA, ...

  18. Mitogenomes and relatedness do not predict frequency of tool-use by sea otters.

    PubMed

    Ralls, Katherine; McInerney, Nancy Rotzel; Gagne, Roderick B; Ernest, Holly B; Tinker, M Tim; Fujii, Jessica; Maldonado, Jesus

    2017-03-01

    Many ecological aspects of tool-use in sea otters are similar to those in Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Within an area, most tool-using dolphins share a single mitochondrial haplotype and are more related to each other than to the population as a whole. We asked whether sea otters in California showed similar genetic patterns by sequencing mitogenomes of 43 otters and genotyping 154 otters at 38 microsatellite loci. There were six variable sites in the mitogenome that yielded three haplotypes, one found in only a single individual. The other two haplotypes contained similar percentages (33 and 36%) of frequent tool-users and a variety of diet types. Microsatellite analyses showed that snail specialists, the diet specialist group that most frequently used tools, were no more related to each other than to the population as a whole. The lack of genetic association among tool-using sea otters compared with dolphins may result from the length of time each species has been using tools. Tool-use in dolphins appears to be a relatively recent innovation (less than 200 years) but sea otters have probably been using tools for many thousands or even millions of years.

  19. Antimicrobial susceptibility of bacterial isolates from sea otters (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Brownstein, Deborah; Miller, Melissa A; Oates, Stori C; Byrne, Barbara A; Jang, Spencer; Murray, Michael J; Gill, Verena A; Jessup, David A

    2011-04-01

    Bacterial infections are an important cause of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) mortality, and some of these infections may originate from terrestrial and anthropogenic sources. Antimicrobials are an important therapeutic tool for management of bacterial infections in stranded sea otters and for prevention of infection following invasive procedures in free-ranging otters. In this study, susceptibility to commonly used antimicrobials was determined for 126 isolates of 15 bacterial species or groups from necropsied, live-stranded injured or sick, and apparently healthy wild sea otters examined between 1998 and 2005. These isolates included both gram-positive and gram-negative strains of primary pathogens, opportunistic pathogens, and environmental flora, including bacterial species with proven zoonotic potential. Minimal evidence of antimicrobial resistance and no strains with unusual or clinically significant multiple-drug resistance patterns were identified. Collectively, these findings will help optimize selection of appropriate antimicrobials for treatment of bacterial diseases in sea otters and other marine species.

  20. Histopathologic lesions in sea otters exposed to crude oil

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lipscomb, T.P.; Harris, R.K.; Moeller, R.B.; Pletcher, J.M.; Haebler, R.J.; Ballachey, B.E.

    1993-01-01

    Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) that appeared to be contaminated with oil, that were in danger of becoming contaminated, or that were behaving abnormally were captured and taken to rehabilitation centers. Exposure to oil was assessed by visual examination when otters arrived at the centers. Degree of oil exposure was graded according to the following criteria: oil covering greater than 60% of the body - heavily contaminated; oil covering 30–60% of the body - moderately contaminated; oil covering less than 30% of the body or light sheen on fur - lightly contaminated. If there was no oil visible, otters were considered uncontaminated. Tissues from 51 oil-contaminated sea otters (14 males, 37 females) and from six uncontaminated sea otters (three males, three females) that died in rehabilitation centers were examined histologically. Among oil-contaminated sea otters, 19/46 had interstitial pulmonary emphysema, 13/40 had gastric erosion and hemorrhage, 11/47 had centrilobular hepatic necrosis, 14/47 had periportal to diffuse hepatic lipidosis, and 10/42 had renal tubular lipidosis. Of the uncontaminated sea otters, 1/6 had gastric erosion and hemorrhage and 1/6 had diffuse hepatic lipidosis. Histologic examinations were performed on tissues from five sea otters (three males, two females) found dead with external oil present 15 to 16 days after the spill. Periportal hepatic lipidosis and renal tubular lipidosis were found in 3/5, and interstitial pulmonary emphysema was found in 1/5. Tissues from six apparently normal sea otters (four males, two females) collected from an area not affected by an oil spill were examined histologically, and none of these lesions were found. We conclude that interstitial pulmonary emphysema, centrilobular hepatic necrosis, and hepatic and renal lipidosis of sea otters were associated with exposure to crude oil. Gastric erosion and hemorrhage may have been associated with

  1. Transmission of Toxoplasma: clues from the study of sea otters as sentinels of Toxoplasma gondii flow into the marine environment.

    PubMed

    Conrad, P A; Miller, M A; Kreuder, C; James, E R; Mazet, J; Dabritz, H; Jessup, D A; Gulland, Frances; Grigg, M E

    2005-10-01

    Toxoplasma gondii affects a wide variety of hosts including threatened southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) which serve as sentinels for the detection of the parasite's transmission into marine ecosystems. Toxoplasmosis is a major cause of mortality and contributor to the slow rate of population recovery for southern sea otters in California. An updated seroprevalence analysis showed that 52% of 305 freshly dead, beachcast sea otters and 38% of 257 live sea otters sampled along the California coast from 1998 to 2004 were infected with T. gondii. Areas with high T. gondii exposure were predominantly sandy bays near urban centres with freshwater runoff. Genotypic characterisation of 15 new T. gondii isolates obtained from otters in 2004 identified only X alleles at B1 and SAG1. A total of 38/50 or 72% of all otter isolates so far examined have been infected with a Type X strain. Type X isolates were also obtained from a Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). Molecular analysis using the C8 RAPD marker showed that the X isolates were more genetically heterogeneous than archetypal Type I, II and III genotypes of T. gondii. The origin and transmission of the Type X T. gondii genotype are not yet clear. Sea otters do not prey on known intermediate hosts for T. gondii and vertical transmission appears to play a minor role in maintaining infection in the populations. Therefore, the most likely source of infection is by infectious, environmentally resistant oocysts that are shed in the feces of felids and transported via freshwater runoff into the marine ecosystem. As nearshore predators, otters serve as sentinels of protozoal pathogen flow into the marine environment since they share the same environment and consume some of the same foods as humans. Investigation into the processes promoting T. gondii infections in sea otters will provide a better understanding of terrestrial parasite flow and the emergence of disease

  2. Histopathologic lesions in sea otters exposed to crude oil

    SciTech Connect

    Lipscomb, T.P.; Harris, R.K.; Moeller, R.B.; Pletcher, J.M.; Haebler, R.J.

    1993-01-01

    On 24 March 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. In the months following the spill, over 1,000 sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from oil spill-affected areas are known to have died. The purpose of the study is to identify and describe histopathologic lesions associated with crude oil exposure in sea otters and to discuss possible pathogeneses of the lesions. Materials available included tissues from oil-contaminated and uncontaminated otters that died in rehabilitation centers following the oil spill and tissues from otters that were found dead in the oil spill-affected area with external oil present. Tissues from apparently normal sea otters from an area not contaminated by crude oil, were also examined.

  3. Population model for Alaska Peninsula sea otters. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Eberhardt, L.L.; Siniff, D.B.

    1988-12-31

    This study was conducted to provide a basis for assessing risks of oil spills to sea otter populations along the Alaska Peninsula. The principal efforts were devoted to analyzing the available data on population dynamics. Curves characterizing survivorship and reproduction for sea otters were devised and fitted to several data sets. A detailed review was conducted of methods of assessing population dynamics data, and several new techniques (e.g., bootstrapping) were applied to available data. A simplified model for use with Alaska Peninsula sea otter populations was devised and implemented in a 'spreadsheet' format. Various aspects of model development and data on population size in Alaska Peninsula areas were reviewed.

  4. Coastal freshwater runoff is a risk factor for Toxoplasma gondii infection of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Miller, M A; Gardner, I A; Kreuder, C; Paradies, D M; Worcester, K R; Jessup, D A; Dodd, E; Harris, M D; Ames, J A; Packham, A E; Conrad, P A

    2002-07-01

    The association among anthropogenic environmental disturbance, pathogen pollution and the emergence of infectious diseases in wildlife has been postulated, but not always well supported by epidemiologic data. Specific evidence of coastal contamination of the marine ecosystem with the zoonotic protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and extensive infection of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) along the California coast was documented by this study. To investigate the extent of exposure and factors contributing to the apparent emergence of T. gondii in southern sea otters, we compiled environmental, demographic and serological data from 223 live and dead sea otters examined between 1997 and 2001. The T. gondii seroprevalence was 42% (49/116) for live otters, and 62% (66/107) for dead otters. Demographic and environmental data were examined for associations with T. gondii seropositivity, with the ultimate goal of identifying spatial clusters and demographic and environmental risk factors for T. gondii infection. Spatial analysis revealed clusters of T. gondii-seropositive sea otters at two locations along the coast, and one site with lower than expected T. gondii seroprevalence. Risk factors that were positively associated with T. gondii seropositivity in logistic regression analysis included male gender, older age and otters sampled from the Morro Bay region of California. Most importantly, otters sampled near areas of maximal freshwater runoff were approximately three times more likely to be seropositive to T. gondii than otters sampled in areas of low flow. No association was found between seropositivity to T. gondii and human population density or exposure to sewage. This study provides evidence implicating land-based surface runoff as a source of T. gondii infection for marine mammals, specifically sea otters, and provides a convincing illustration of pathogen pollution in the marine ecosystem.

  5. Behavior associated with forced copulation of juvenile Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) by southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Harris, Heather S.; Oates, Stori C.; Staedler, Michelle M.; Tinker, M. Tim; Jessup, David A.; Harvey, James T.; Miller, Melissa A.

    2010-01-01

    Nineteen occurrences of interspecific sexual behavior between male southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) and juvenile Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) were reported in Monterey Bay, California, between 2000 and 2002. At least three different male sea otters were observed harassing, dragging, guarding, and copulating with harbor seals for up to 7 d postmortem. Carcasses of 15 juvenile harbor seals were recovered, and seven were necropsied in detail by a veterinary pathologist. Necropsy findings from two female sea otters that were recovered dead from male sea otters exhibiting similar behavior are also presented to facilitate a comparison of lesions. The most frequent lesions included superficial skin lacerations; hemorrhage around the nose, eyes, flippers, and perineum; and traumatic corneal erosions or ulcers. The harbor seals sustained severe genital trauma, ranging from vaginal perforation to vagino-cervical transection, and colorectal perforations as a result of penile penetration. One harbor seal developed severe pneumoperitoneum subsequent to vaginal perforation, which was also observed in both female sea otters and has been reported as a postcoital lesion in humans. This study represents the first description of lesions resulting from forced copulation of harbor seals by sea otters and is also the first report of pneu-moperitoneum secondary to forced copulation in a nonhuman animal. Possible explanations for this behavior are discussed in the context of sea otter biology and population demographics.

  6. Coxiella burnetii exposure in northern sea otters Enhydra lutris kenyoni.

    PubMed

    Duncan, Colleen; Gill, Verena A; Worman, Kristin; Burek-Huntington, Kathy; Pabilonia, Kristy L; Johnson, Sam; Fitzpatrick, Kelly A; Weller, Christina; Kersh, Gilbert J

    2015-05-11

    Valvular endocarditis has been well described in northern sea otters Enhydra lutris kenyoni of Alaska and in many cases no cause has been identified. It is also one of the most common conditions observed in people with chronic Coxiella burnetii infection. Given the high levels of C. burnetii exposure in marine mammals distributed throughout the same geographic range as the northern sea otter, and the presence of valvular lesions seen in otters, the objective of this study was to determine the level of C. burnetii exposure in otters and investigate any association between exposure, infection and valvular disease in this species. Archived serum from 75 live captured, apparently healthy otters (25 from each of 3 stocks) and 30 dead otters were tested for C. burnetii antibodies by indirect florescent antibody assay (IFA). Archived bone marrow and heart valves were tested for C. burnetii DNA by real-time PCR (qPCR). Overall, the seroprevalence in live otters was 17%, with significantly more exposed animals in the south central (40%) stock relative to the southwest (8%) and southeast (4%). The seroprevalence of animals sampled post mortem was 27%, although none of the bone marrow or heart valve samples were positive by qPCR. Results of this study failed to demonstrate a significant association between C. burnetii infection and valvular endocarditis in sea otters; however, the differing seroprevalence suggests that exposure opportunities vary geographically.

  7. Variation in δ13C and δ15N diet–vibrissae trophic discrimination factors in a wild population of California sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Newsome, Seth D.; Bentall, Gena B.; Tinker, M. Tim; Oftedal, Olav T.; Ralls, Katherine; Estes, James A.; Fogel, Marilyn L.

    2010-01-01

    The ability to quantify dietary inputs using stable isotope data depends on accurate estimates of isotopic differences between a consumer (c) and its diet (d), commonly referred to as trophic discrimination factors (TDFs) and denoted by Δc-d. At present, TDFs are available for only a few mammals and are usually derived in captive settings. The magnitude of TDFs and the degree to which they vary in wild populations is unknown. We determined δ13C and δ15N TDFs for vibrissae (i.e., whiskers), a tissue that is rapidly becoming an informative isotopic substrate for ecologists, of a wild population of sea otters for which individual diet has been quantified through extensive observational study. This is one of the very few studies that report TDFs for free-living wild animals feeding on natural diets. Trophic discrimination factors of 2.2‰ ± 0.7‰ for δ13C and 3.5‰ ± 0.6‰ for δ15N (mean ± SD) were similar to those reported for captive carnivores, and variation in individual δ13C TDFs was negatively but significantly related to sea urchin consumption. This pattern may relate to the lipid-rich diet consumed by most sea otters in this population and suggests that it may not be appropriate to lipid-extract prey samples when using the isotopic composition of keratinaceous tissues to examine diet in consumers that frequently consume lipid-rich foods, such as many marine mammals and seabirds. We suggest that inherent variation in TDFs should be included in isotopically based estimates of trophic level, food chain length, and mixing models used to quantify dietary inputs in wild populations; this practice will further define the capabilities and limitations of isotopic approaches in ecological studies.

  8. Variation in delta13C and delta15N diet-vibrissae trophic discrimination factors in a wild population of California sea otters.

    PubMed

    Newsome, Seth D; Bentall, Gena B; Tinker, M Tim; Oftedal, Olav T; Ralls, Katherine; Estes, James A; Fogel, Marilyn L

    2010-09-01

    The ability to quantify dietary inputs using stable isotope data depends on accurate estimates of isotopic differences between a consumer (c) and its diet (d), commonly referred to as trophic discrimination factors (TDFs) and denoted by delta(c-d). At present, TDFs are available for only a few mammals and are usually derived in captive settings. The magnitude of TDFs and the degree to which they vary in wild populations is unknown. We determined delta13C and delta15N TDFs for vibrissae (i.e., whiskers), a tissue that is rapidly becoming an informative isotopic substrate for ecologists, of a wild population of sea otters for which individual diet has been quantified through extensive observational study. This is one of the very few studies that report TDFs for free-living wild animals feeding on natural diets. Trophic discrimination factors of 2.2 per thousand +/- 0.7 per thousand for delta13C and 3.5 per thousand +/- 0.6 per thousand for delta15N (mean +/- SD) were similar to those reported for captive carnivores, and variation in individual delta13C TDFs was negatively but significantly related to sea urchin consumption. This pattern may relate to the lipid-rich diet consumed by most sea otters in this population and suggests that it may not be appropriate to lipid-extract prey samples when using the isotopic composition of keratinaceous tissues to examine diet in consumers that frequently consume lipid-rich foods, such as many marine mammals and seabirds. We suggest that inherent variation in TDFs should be included in isotopically based estimates of trophic level, food chain length, and mixing models used to quantify dietary inputs in wild populations; this practice will further define the capabilities and limitations of isotopic approaches in ecological studies.

  9. The risk of disease and threats to the wild population. Special Issue: Conservation and Management of the Southern Sea Otter

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Thomas, N.J.; Cole, R.A.

    1996-01-01

    The growth of the southern sea otter population has been steady, but slow in comparison to Alaskan subspecies, and range expansion in California has faltered. Slower growth is occurring in California despite birth rates comparable to those in Alaska, so biologists have reasoned that mortality is hindering the growth of the California population (Riedman and Estes 1990; see Estes et al., this issue). In order to investigate this issue, research efforts have been directed toward identifying the causes of death in southern sea otters.

  10. Comparison of human and southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) health risks for infection with protozoa in nearshore waters.

    PubMed

    Adell, A D; McBride, G; Wuertz, S; Conrad, P A; Smith, W A

    2016-11-01

    Cryptosporidium and Giardia spp. are waterborne, fecally-transmitted pathogens that cause economic loss due to gastroenteritis and beach closures. We applied quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) to determine the health risks for humans and sea otters due to waterborne exposure of Cryptosporidium and Giardia spp. when swimming in three types of surface waters: river, stormwater and wastewater effluent during the wet and dry seasons in the central coast of California. This is the first application of QMRA to estimate both the probability of infection in Southern sea otters and the probability of illness in humans, using microbial source tracking (MST) as a variable. Children swimming close to stormwater discharges had an estimated Cryptosporidium-associated illness probability that exceeded the accepted U.S. EPA criteria (32 illnesses/1000 swimmers or 3.2%). Based on the assumption that sea otters are as susceptible as humans to Cryptosporidium infection, the infection probabilities were close to 2% and 16% when sea otters were swimming at the end of points of rivers and stormwater discharges, respectively. In the case of Giardia, infection probabilities of 11% and 23% were estimated for sea otters swimming at the end of point of wastewater discharges, assuming that sea otters are as susceptible as gerbils and humans, respectively. The results of this QMRA suggest that 1) humans and sea otters are at risk when swimming at outflow sites for rivers, stormwater and treated wastewater effluent; 2) reduced loads of viable protozoan cysts and oocysts in recreational water can lessen the probability of infection of humans and sea otters; and 3) the risk of infection of humans and sea otters can be reduced with the treatment of wastewater to decrease oocyst and cyst viability before effluent is released into the sea.

  11. Spatial habitat use patterns of sea otters in coastal washington

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Laidre, K.L.; Jameson, R.J.; Gurarie, E.; Jeffries, S.J.; Allen, H.

    2009-01-01

    Sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) movements, home range, and activity budgets were described from data collected during very-high-frequency radiotelemetry studies of 75 individuals on the outer coast of Washington State between 1992 and 1999. Sea otters were located at least once per week from 22 accessible sites along the coast. Over the 7-year study period, range expansion occurred from the core range north and east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca (SJF) as well as southward on the outer coast. Forty-three percent of the sea otters moved into the SJF at least once, most often in winter, using habitat that had not been occupied by sea otters since their extirpation 100 years ago. All sea otters spent portions of their time in the vicinity of Cape Alava, and many animals demonstrated consistent periodic seasonal shifts between specific portions of the coastline over several years. Ninety-five percent annual linear home ranges differed between sex and age classes. Adult males used the largest amount of coastline (50 km ?? 9 5D) and subadult females used the least (24 ?? 9 km). Both adult males and females demonstrated high seasonal periodicity in range use in summer and winter. Twenty-four-hour time budgets in the core portion of the range revealed on average sea otters spent 41% ?? 14% SD of the time foraging and 45% ?? 13% of the time resting (age and sex classes pooled). Adult and subadult female sea otters were most frequently found resting and foraging close to shore ( 1,000 m offshore and at depths between 10 and 30 m. Given current rates of population growth and observed mobility, sea otters in Washington have high potential for range expansion into unoccupied habitat such as Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, the SJF, or along Vancouver Island. ?? 2009 American Society of Mammalogists.

  12. Genetic Diversity and Population Parameters of Sea Otters, Enhydra lutris, before Fur Trade Extirpation from 1741–1911

    PubMed Central

    Larson, Shawn; Jameson, Ron; Etnier, Michael; Jones, Terry; Hall, Roberta

    2012-01-01

    All existing sea otter, Enhydra lutris, populations have suffered at least one historic population bottleneck stemming from the fur trade extirpations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We examined genetic variation, gene flow, and population structure at five microsatellite loci in samples from five pre-fur trade populations throughout the sea otter's historical range: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Russia. We then compared those values to genetic diversity and population structure found within five modern sea otter populations throughout their current range: California, Prince William Sound, Amchitka Island, Southeast Alaska and Washington. We found twice the genetic diversity in the pre-fur trade populations when compared to modern sea otters, a level of diversity that was similar to levels that are found in other mammal populations that have not experienced population bottlenecks. Even with the significant loss in genetic diversity modern sea otters have retained historical structure. There was greater gene flow before extirpation than that found among modern sea otter populations but the difference was not statistically significant. The most dramatic effect of pre fur trade population extirpation was the loss of genetic diversity. For long term conservation of these populations increasing gene flow and the maintenance of remnant genetic diversity should be encouraged. PMID:22403635

  13. Genetic diversity and population parameters of sea otters, Enhydra lutris, before fur trade extirpation from 1741-1911.

    PubMed

    Larson, Shawn; Jameson, Ron; Etnier, Michael; Jones, Terry; Hall, Roberta

    2012-01-01

    All existing sea otter, Enhydra lutris, populations have suffered at least one historic population bottleneck stemming from the fur trade extirpations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We examined genetic variation, gene flow, and population structure at five microsatellite loci in samples from five pre-fur trade populations throughout the sea otter's historical range: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Russia. We then compared those values to genetic diversity and population structure found within five modern sea otter populations throughout their current range: California, Prince William Sound, Amchitka Island, Southeast Alaska and Washington. We found twice the genetic diversity in the pre-fur trade populations when compared to modern sea otters, a level of diversity that was similar to levels that are found in other mammal populations that have not experienced population bottlenecks. Even with the significant loss in genetic diversity modern sea otters have retained historical structure. There was greater gene flow before extirpation than that found among modern sea otter populations but the difference was not statistically significant. The most dramatic effect of pre fur trade population extirpation was the loss of genetic diversity. For long term conservation of these populations increasing gene flow and the maintenance of remnant genetic diversity should be encouraged.

  14. Expressed MHC class II genes in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from geographically disparate populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bowen, L.; Aldridge, B.M.; Miles, A.K.; Stott, J.L.

    2006-01-01

    The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is central to maintaining the immunologic vigor of individuals and populations. Classical MHC class II genes were targeted for partial sequencing in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from populations in California, Washington, and Alaska. Sequences derived from sea otter peripheral blood leukocyte mRNAs were similar to those classified as DQA, DQB, DRA, and DRB in other species. Comparisons of the derived amino acid compositions supported the classification of these as functional molecules from at least one DQA, DQB, and DRA locus and at least two DRB loci. While limited in scope, phylogenetic analysis of the DRB peptide-binding region suggested the possible existence of distinct clades demarcated by geographic region. These preliminary findings support the need for additional MHC gene sequencing and expansion to a comprehensive study targeting additional otters. ?? 2006 Blackwell Munksgaard.

  15. Expressed MHC class II genes in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from geographically disparate populations.

    PubMed

    Bowen, L; Aldridge, B M; Miles, A K; Stott, J L

    2006-05-01

    The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is central to maintaining the immunologic vigor of individuals and populations. Classical MHC class II genes were targeted for partial sequencing in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from populations in California, Washington, and Alaska. Sequences derived from sea otter peripheral blood leukocyte mRNAs were similar to those classified as DQA, DQB, DRA, and DRB in other species. Comparisons of the derived amino acid compositions supported the classification of these as functional molecules from at least one DQA, DQB, and DRA locus and at least two DRB loci. While limited in scope, phylogenetic analysis of the DRB peptide-binding region suggested the possible existence of distinct clades demarcated by geographic region. These preliminary findings support the need for additional MHC gene sequencing and expansion to a comprehensive study targeting additional otters.

  16. Evaluating potential conservation conflicts between two listed species: Sea otters and black abalone

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Raimondi, Peter T.; Jurgens, Laura J.; Tinker, M. Tim

    2015-01-01

    Population consequences of endangered species interacting as predators and prey have been considered theoretically and legally, but rarely investigated in the field. We examined relationships between spatially variable populations of a predator, the California sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, and a prey species, the black abalone, Haliotis cracherodii. Both species are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and co-occur along the coast of California. We compared the local abundance and habitat distribution of black abalone at 12 sites with varying densities of sea otters. All of the populations of abalone we examined were in the geographic area currently unaffected by withering disease, which has decimated populations south of the study area. Surprisingly, our findings indicate that sea otter density is positively associated with increased black abalone density. The presence of sea otters also correlated with a shift in black abalone to habitat conferring greater refuge, which could decrease illegal human harvest. These results highlight the need for a multi-species approach to conservation management of the two species, and demonstrate the importance of using field-collected data rather than simple trophic assumptions to understand relationships between jointly vulnerable predator and prey populations.

  17. Evaluating potential conservation conflicts between two listed species: sea otters and black abalone.

    PubMed

    Raimondi, Peter; Jurgens, Laura J; Tinker, M Tim

    2015-11-01

    Population consequences of endangered species interacting as predators and prey have been considered theoretically and legally, but rarely investigated in the field. We examined relationships between spatially variable populations of a predator, the California sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, and a prey species, the black abalone, Haliotis cracherodii. Both species are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and co-occur along the coast of California. We compared the local abundance and habitat distribution of black abalone at 12 sites with varying densities of sea otters. All of the populations of abalone we examined were in the geographic area currently unaffected by withering disease, which has decimated populations south of the study area. Surprisingly, our findings indicate that sea otter density is positively associated with increased black abalone density. The presence of sea otters also correlated with a shift in black abalone to habitat conferring greater refuge, which could decrease illegal human harvest. These results highlight the need for a multi-species approach to conservation management of the two species, and demonstrate the importance of using field-collected data rather than simple trophic assumptions to understand relationships between jointly vulnerable predator and prey populations.

  18. Effects of wildfire on sea otter (Enhydra lutris) gene transcript profiles

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Kolden, Crystal A.; Saarinen, Justin A.; Bodkin, James L.; Murray, Michael J.; Tinker, M. Tim

    2015-01-01

    Wildfires have been shown to impact terrestrial species over a range of temporal scales. Little is known, however, about the more subtle toxicological effects of wildfires, particularly in downstream marine or downwind locations from the wildfire perimeter. These down-current effects may be just as substantial as those effects within the perimeter. We used gene transcription technology, a sensitive indicator of immunological perturbation, to study the effects of the 2008 Basin Complex Fire on the California coast on a sentinel marine species, the sea otter (Enhydra lutris). We captured sea otters in 2008 (3 mo after the Basin Complex Fire was controlled) and 2009 (15 mo after the Basin Complex Fire was controlled) in the adjacent nearshore environment near Big Sur, California. Gene responses were distinctly different between Big Sur temporal groups, signifying detoxification of PAHs, possible associated response to potential malignant transformation, and suppression of immune function as the primary responses of sea otters to fire in 2008 compared to those captured in 2009. In general, gene transcription patterns in the 2008 sea otters were indicative of molecular reactions to organic exposure, malignant transformation, and decreased ability to respond to pathogens that seemed to consistent with short-term hydrocarbon exposure.

  19. A comparative analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polychlorinated biphenyls in southern sea otters that died of infectious diseases and noninfectious causes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kannan, K.; Perrota, E.; Thomas, N.J.; Aldous, D.M.

    2007-01-01

    Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) from the California coast continue to exhibit a slower population regrowth rate than the population in Alaska. Infectious diseases have been identified as a frequent cause of death. Infectious diseases caused by varied pathogens including bacteria, fungi, and parasites were suggestive of compromised immunological health of mature animals in this population. To test the hypothesis that elevated exposure to immunotoxic contaminants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contribute to disease susceptibility via immunosuppression, we determined concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs in livers of 80 adult female sea otters that died of infectious diseases, noninfectious causes, or emaciation. Concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs in sea otter livers varied widely (10a??26,800 ng/g and 81a??210,000 ng/g, lipid weight, respectively). Concentrations of PBDEs in sea otters were some of the highest values reported for marine mammals so far. Although PCB concentrations in sea otters have declined during 1992a??2002, the mean concentration was at the threshold at which adverse health effects are elicited. Concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs were significantly correlated, suggesting co-exposure of these contaminants in sea otters. No significant association was found between the concentrations of PBDEs and the health status of sea otters. Concentrations of PCBs were significantly higher in otters in the infectious disease category than in the noninfectious category, suggesting an association between elevated PCB concentrations and infectious diseases in Southern sea otters.

  20. A comparative analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polychlorinated biphenyls in Southern sea otters that died of infectious diseases and noninfectious causes.

    PubMed

    Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Perrotta, Emily; Thomas, Nancy J; Aldous, Kenneth M

    2007-08-01

    Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) from the California coast continue to exhibit a slower population regrowth rate than the population in Alaska. Infectious diseases have been identified as a frequent cause of death. Infectious diseases caused by varied pathogens including bacteria, fungi, and parasites were suggestive of compromised immunological health of mature animals in this population. To test the hypothesis that elevated exposure to immunotoxic contaminants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contribute to disease susceptibility via immunosuppression, we determined concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs in livers of 80 adult female sea otters that died of infectious diseases, noninfectious causes, or emaciation. Concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs in sea otter livers varied widely (10-26,800 ng/g and 81-210,000 ng/g, lipid weight, respectively). Concentrations of PBDEs in sea otters were some of the highest values reported for marine mammals so far. Although PCB concentrations in sea otters have declined during 1992-2002, the mean concentration was at the threshold at which adverse health effects are elicited. Concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs were significantly correlated, suggesting co-exposure of these contaminants in sea otters. No significant association was found between the concentrations of PBDEs and the health status of sea otters. Concentrations of PCBs were significantly higher in otters in the infectious disease category than in the noninfectious category, suggesting an association between elevated PCB concentrations and infectious diseases in Southern sea otters.

  1. The distribution of nuclear genetic variation and historical demography of sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Aguilar, A.; Jessup, David A.; Estes, James; Garza, J.C.

    2008-01-01

    The amount and distribution of population genetic variation is crucial information for the design of effective conservation strategies for endangered species and can also be used to provide inference about demographic processes and patterns of migration. Here, we describe variation at a large number of nuclear genes in sea otters Enhydra lutris ssp. We surveyed 14 variable microsatellite loci and two genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in up to 350 California sea otters Enhydra lutris nereis, which represents ???10% of the subspecies' population, and 46 otters from two Alaskan sites. We utilized methods for detecting past reductions in effective population size to examine the effects of near extinction from the fur trade. Summary statistic tests largely failed to find a signal of a recent population size reduction (within the past 200years), but a Bayesian method found a signal of a strong reduction over a longer time scale (up to 500years ago). These results indicate that the reduction in size began long enough ago that much genetic variation was lost before the 19th century fur trade. A comparison of geographic distance and pairwise relatedness for individual otters found no evidence of kin-based spatial clustering for either gender. This indicates that there is no population structure, due to extended family groups, within the California population. A survey of population genetic variation found that two of the MHC genes, DQB and DRB, had two alleles present and one of the genes, DRA, was monomorphic in otters. This contrasts with other mammals, where they are often the most variable coding genes known. Genetic variation in the sea otter is among the lowest observed for a mammal and raises concerns about the long-term viability of the species, particularly in the face of future environmental changes. ?? Journal compilation ?? 2007 The Zoological Society of London No claim to original US government works.

  2. Canine distemper vaccination is a safe and useful preventive procedure for southern sea otters (Enhydra lutra nereis).

    PubMed

    Jessup, David A; Murray, Michael J; Casper, David R; Brownstein, Deborah; Kreuder-Johnson, Christine

    2009-12-01

    From 2002 to 2006, eight captive southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) at research and display institutions in California at risk of exposure to potentially lethal morbiliviruses were vaccinated with a commercial recombinant poxvirus vectored canine distemper (CD) vaccine. Serum-neutralizing (SN) antibody responses were followed for several years. The goal of this study was to determine whether 1) CD vaccination was a safe preventive medicine procedure for this species; 2) sea otters produce detectable SN antibodies in response to vaccination with this product; and 3) if this type of vaccination might be useful in response to a morbilivirus disease outbreak in free-ranging sea otters. Results indicate that a commercial recombinant vaccine is safe, provokes a measurable SN antibody response, and that vaccination may provide some protection from infection for free-ranging sea otters. It also resulted in the reevaluation of CD serology data that were previously published for free-ranging sea otters. Canine distemper, Enhydra lutris nereis, morbilivirus, sea otter, serology, vaccination.

  3. Protozoal meningoencephalitis in sea otters (Enhydra lutris): a histopathological and immunohistochemical study of naturally occurring cases.

    PubMed

    Thomas, N J; Dubey, J P; Lindsay, D S; Cole, R A; Meteyer, C U

    2007-01-01

    Protozoal meningoencephalitis is considered to be an important cause of mortality in the California sea otter (Enhydra lutris). Thirty nine of 344 (11.3%) California (CA) and Washington state (WA) sea otters examined from 1985 to 2004 had histopathological evidence of significant protozoal meningoencephalitis. The aetiological agents and histopathological changes associated with these protozoal infections are described. The morphology of the actively multiplicative life stages of the organisms (tachyzoites for Toxoplasma gondii and merozoites for Sarcocystis neurona) and immunohistochemical labelling were used to identify infection with S. neurona (n=22, 56.4%), T. gondii (n=5, 12.8%) or dual infection with both organisms (n=12, 30.8%). Active S. neurona was present in all dual infections, while most had only the latent form of T. gondii. In S. neurona meningoencephalitis, multifocal to diffuse gliosis was widespread in grey matter and consistently present in the molecular layer of the cerebellum. In T. gondii meningoencephalitis, discrete foci of gliosis and malacia were more widely separated, sometimes incorporated pigment-laden macrophages and mineral, and were found predominantly in the cerebral cortex. Quiescent tissue cysts of T. gondii were considered to be incidental and not a cause of clinical disease and mortality. Protozoal meningoencephalitis was diagnosed more frequently in the expanding population of WA sea otters (10 of 31, 32.3%) than in the declining CA population (29 of 313, 9.3%). Among sea otters with protozoal meningoencephalitis, those that had displayed neurological signs prior to death had active S. neurona encephalitis, supporting the conclusion that S. neurona is the most significant protozoal pathogen in the central nervous system of sea otters.

  4. Protozoal Meningoencephalitis in Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris): a Histopathological and Immunohistochemical Study of Naturally Occuring Cases

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Thomas, N.J.; Dubey, J.P.; Lindsay, D.S.; Cole, R.A.; Meteyer, C.U.

    2007-01-01

    Protozoal meningoencephalitis is considered to be an important cause of mortality in the California sea otter (Enhydra lutris). Thirty nine of 344 (11.3%) California (CA) and Washington state (WA) sea otters examined from 1985 to 2004 had histopathological evidence of significant protozoal meningoencephalitis. The aetiological agents and histopathological changes associated with these protozoal infections are described. The morphology of the actively multiplicative life stages of the organisms (tachyzoites for Toxoplasma gondii and merozoites for Sarcocystis neurona) and immunohistochemical labelling were used to identify infection with S. neurona (n=22, 56.4%), T. gondii (n=5, 12.8%) or dual infection with both organisms (n=12, 30.8%). Active S. neurona was present in all dual infections, while most had only the latent form of T. gondii. In S. neurona meningoencephalitis, multifocal to diffuse gliosis was widespread in grey matter and consistently present in the molecular layer of the cerebellum. In T. gondii meningoencephalitis, discrete foci of gliosis and malacia were more widely separated, sometimes incorporated pigment-laden macrophages and mineral, and were found predominantly in the cerebral cortex. Quiescent tissue cysts of T. gondii were considered to be incidental and not a cause of clinical disease and mortality. Protozoal meningoencephalitis was diagnosed more frequently in the expanding population of WA sea otters (10 of 31, 32.3%) than in the declining CA population (29 of 313, 9.3%). Among sea otters with protozoal meningoencephalitis, those that had displayed neurological signs prior to death had active S. neurona encephalitis, supporting the conclusion that S. neurona is the most significant protozoal pathogen in the central nervous system of sea otters.

  5. Ecological drivers of variation in tool-use frequency across sea otter populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Fujii, Jessica A; Ralls, Katherine; Tinker, M. Tim

    2015-01-01

    Sea otters are well-known tool users, employing objects such as rocks or shells to break open hard-shelled invertebrate prey. However, little is known about how the frequency of tool use varies among sea otter populations and the factors that drive these differences. We examined 17 years of observational data on prey capture and tool use from 8 sea otter populations ranging from southern California to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. There were significant differences in the diets of these populations as well as variation in the frequency of tool use. Sea otters at Amchitka Island, Alaska, used tools on less than 1% of dives that resulted in the capture of prey compared with approximately 16% in Monterey, California. The percentage of individuals in the population that used tools ranged from 10% to 93%. In all populations, marine snails and thick-shelled bivalves were most likely to be associated with tool use, whereas soft-bodied prey items such as worms and sea stars were the least likely. The probability that a tool would be used on a given prey type varied across populations. The morphology of the prey item being handled and the prevalence of various types of prey in local diets were major ecological drivers of tool use: together they accounted for about 64% of the variation in tool-use frequency among populations. The remaining variation may be related to changes in the relative costs and benefits to an individual otter of learning to use tools effectively under differing ecological circumstances.

  6. 19 CFR 12.63 - Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2011-04-01 2011-04-01 false Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. 12.63 Section... OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.63 Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste composed of small pieces not large enough to...

  7. 19 CFR 12.63 - Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2010-04-01 2010-04-01 false Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. 12.63 Section... OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.63 Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste composed of small pieces not large enough to...

  8. 19 CFR 12.63 - Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2012-04-01 2012-04-01 false Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. 12.63 Section... OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.63 Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste composed of small pieces not large enough to...

  9. 19 CFR 12.61 - Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2013-04-01 2013-04-01 false Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. 12.61...; DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.61 Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. (a) Fur-seal or sea-otter skins taken by Indians, Aleuts, or...

  10. 19 CFR 12.61 - Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2014-04-01 2014-04-01 false Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. 12.61...; DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.61 Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. (a) Fur-seal or sea-otter skins taken by Indians, Aleuts, or...

  11. 19 CFR 12.63 - Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2013-04-01 2013-04-01 false Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. 12.63 Section... OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.63 Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste composed of small pieces not large enough to...

  12. 19 CFR 12.61 - Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2010-04-01 2010-04-01 false Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. 12.61...; DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.61 Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. (a) Fur-seal or sea-otter skins taken by Indians, Aleuts, or...

  13. 19 CFR 12.61 - Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2012-04-01 2012-04-01 false Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. 12.61...; DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.61 Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. (a) Fur-seal or sea-otter skins taken by Indians, Aleuts, or...

  14. 19 CFR 12.61 - Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2011-04-01 2011-04-01 false Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. 12.61...; DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.61 Fur-seal or sea-otter skins permitted entry. (a) Fur-seal or sea-otter skins taken by Indians, Aleuts, or...

  15. 19 CFR 12.63 - Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-04-01

    ... 19 Customs Duties 1 2014-04-01 2014-04-01 false Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. 12.63 Section... OF THE TREASURY SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE Fur-Seal Or Sea-Otter Skins § 12.63 Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste. Seal-skin or sea-otter-skin waste composed of small pieces not large enough to...

  16. Prey choice and habitat use drive sea otter pathogen exposure in a resource-limited coastal system.

    PubMed

    Johnson, Christine K; Tinker, Martin T; Estes, James A; Conrad, Patricia A; Staedler, Michelle; Miller, Melissa A; Jessup, David A; Mazet, Jonna A K

    2009-02-17

    The processes promoting disease in wild animal populations are highly complex, yet identifying these processes is critically important for conservation when disease is limiting a population. By combining field studies with epidemiologic tools, we evaluated the relationship between key factors impeding southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population growth: disease and resource limitation. This threatened population has struggled to recover despite protection, so we followed radio-tagged sea otters and evaluated infection with 2 disease-causing protozoal pathogens, Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona, to reveal risks that increased the likelihood of pathogen exposure. We identified patterns of pathogen infection that are linked to individual animal behavior, prey choice, and habitat use. We detected a high-risk spatial cluster of S. neurona infections in otters with home ranges in southern Monterey Bay and a coastal segment near San Simeon and Cambria where otters had high levels of infection with T. gondii. We found that otters feeding on abalone, which is the preferred prey in a resource-abundant marine ecosystem, had a very low risk of infection with either pathogen, whereas otters consuming small marine snails were more likely to be infected with T. gondii. Individual dietary specialization in sea otters is an adaptive mechanism for coping with limited food resources along central coastal California. High levels of infection with protozoal pathogens may be an adverse consequence of dietary specialization in this threatened species, with both depleted resources and disease working synergistically to limit recovery.

  17. Prey choice and habitat use drive sea otter pathogen exposure in a resource-limited coastal system

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Johnson, Christine K.; Tinker, M. Tim; Estes, James A.; Conrad, Patricia A.; Staedler, Michelle M.; Miller, Melissa A.; Jessup, David A.; Mazet, Jonna A.K.

    2014-01-01

    The processes promoting disease in wild animal populations are highly complex, yet identifying these processes is critically important for conservation when disease is limiting a population. By combining field studies with epidemiologic tools, we evaluated the relationship between key factors impeding southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population growth: disease and resource limitation. This threatened population has struggled to recover despite protection, so we followed radio-tagged sea otters and evaluated infection with 2 disease-causing protozoal pathogens, Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona, to reveal risks that increased the likelihood of pathogen exposure. We identified patterns of pathogen infection that are linked to individual animal behavior, prey choice, and habitat use. We detected a high-risk spatial cluster of S. neurona infections in otters with home ranges in southern Monterey Bay and a coastal segment near San Simeon and Cambria where otters had high levels of infection with T. gondii. We found that otters feeding on abalone, which is the preferred prey in a resource-abundant marine ecosystem, had a very low risk of infection with either pathogen, whereas otters consuming small marine snails were more likely to be infected with T. gondii. Individual dietary specialization in sea otters is an adaptive mechanism for coping with limited food resources along central coastal California. High levels of infection with protozoal pathogens may be an adverse consequence of dietary specialization in this threatened species, with both depleted resources and disease working synergistically to limit recovery.

  18. Indices used to assess status of sea otter populations: a reply

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Estes, James A.

    1990-01-01

    The California sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population, after increasing for more than half a century, stabilized and probably declined from the mid-1970's to the mid-1980's. Estes et al. (1986) suggested that the stabilization and decline were not due to food limitation. Garshelis et al. (1990) challenged this suggestion, although in doing so they misrepresented arguments made by Estes et al. (1986), provided no evidence for alternative hypotheses, and offered no constructive recommendations for a better means of population assessment. While acknowledging some of the points made by Garshelis et al. (1990), I believe the collective evidence presented by Estes et al. )1986) provided a reasonable basis for rejecting the food-limitation hypothesis, and point out that recent increases in the California sea otter population following a legislated reduction in net entanglement mortality is strong evidence against the food-limitation hypothesis.

  19. Sea otter population declines in the Aleutian Archipelago

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Doroff, Angela; Estes, James A.; Tinker, M. Tim; Burn, Douglas M.; Evans, Thomas J.

    2003-01-01

    Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations were exploited to near extinction and began to recover after the cessation of commercial hunting in 1911. Remnant colonies of sea otters in the Aleutian archipelago were among the first to recover; they continued to increase through the 1980s but declined abruptly during the 1990s. We conducted an aerial survey of the Aleutian archipelago in 2000 and compared results with similar surveys conducted in 1965 and 1992. The number of sea otters counted decreased by 75% between 1965 and 2000; 88% for islands at equilibrial density in 1965. The population decline likely began in the mid-1980s and declined at a rate of 17.5%/year in the 1990s. The minimal population estimate was 8,742 sea otters in 2000. The population declined to a uniformly low density in the archipelago, suggesting a common and geographically widespread cause. These data are in general agreement with the hypothesis of increased predation on sea otters. These data chronicle one of the most widespread and precipitous population declines for a mammalian carnivore in recorded history.

  20. 78 FR 34652 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Reporting Requirements for Sea Otter...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2013-06-10

    ... Requirements for Sea Otter Interactions With the Pacific Sardine Fishery; Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery... report any interactions that may occur between a CPS vessel and/or fishing gear and sea otters. Specifically, these reporting requirements are: 1. If a southern sea otter is entangled in a net, regardless...

  1. 77 FR 67302 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Termination of the Southern Sea Otter...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-11-09

    ...; Termination of the Southern Sea Otter Translocation Program; Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Translocation of Southern Sea Otters AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION... southern sea otter translocation program, which was initiated in 1987. The purpose of the program was...

  2. 75 FR 11115 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Reporting Requirements for Sea Otter...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-03-10

    ... Requirements for Sea Otter Interactions with the Pacific Sardine Fishery; Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery... the possible effects to the threatened southern sea otter. USFWS completed a biological opinion for... continued existence of the southern sea otter there remained the potential to incidentally take southern...

  3. Temporal trends (1992-2007) of perfluorinated chemicals in Northern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from South-Central Alaska.

    PubMed

    Hart, Kimberly; Gill, Verena A; Kannan, Kurunthachalam

    2009-04-01

    Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have been detected in abiotic and biotic matrices worldwide, including the Arctic Ocean. Considering these chemicals' persistent and bioaccumulative potentials, it was expected that levels of PFCs, like those of many legacy organic pollutants, would respond slowly to the restrictions in production and usage. Temporal trend studies in remote areas, such as the Arctic, can help determine the chronology of contamination and the response of the environment to regulations on PFCs. Prior to this study, temporal trends of PFCs in Alaskan coastal waters had not been examined. In the present study, concentrations of six PFCs were determined in livers of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) collected from three areas in south-central Alaska (Prince William Sound, n = 36; Resurrection Bay, n = 7; Kachemak Bay, n = 34) from 1992 to 2007. Additionally, previously published profiles and concentrations of PFCs in southern sea otters from California and Asian sea otters from Kamchatka (Russia) were compared to our new data, to determine the geographical differences in PFC profiles among these three regions in the Pacific Ocean. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanesulfonamide (PFOSA), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA) were the predominant PFCs found in the livers of northern sea otters from 1992 to 2007. Other PFCs, such as perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnDA), and perfluorodecanoate (PFDA), were detected less frequently, and at low concentrations. Overall, from 2001 to 2007, a decrease in concentrations of PFOS was found in northern sea otters, suggesting an immediate response to the phase-out in 2000 of perfluorooctanesulfonyl-based compounds by a major producer in the United States. In contrast, concentrations of PFNA in northern sea otters increased by 10-fold from 2004 to 2007. These results indicate that the contribution by PFNA to SigmaPFC concentrations is increasing in northern sea otters. The profiles (i

  4. Microsatellite DNA and mitochondrial DNA variation in remnant and translocated sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Larson, Shawn E.; Jameson, Ronald J.; Bodkin, James L.; Staedler, Michelle; Bentzen, Paul

    2002-01-01

    All existing sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations have suffered at least 1, and in some cases 2, population bottlenecks. The 1st occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries as a result of commercial hunting that eliminated sea otters from much their native range and reduced surviving populations to small remnants. The 2nd bottleneck occurred when small numbers of otters were reintroduced, via translocation, to areas where the species had been eliminated. We examined genetic variation at 7 microsatellite loci and the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region in 3 remnant populations, Amchitka Island (Aleutian Islands, Alaska), central coastal California, and Prince William Sound (Alaska), and in 2 reintroduced populations, southeast Alaska and Washington, that were founded with transplants from Amchitka, and in the case of southeast Alaska, individuals from Prince William Sound as well. We found no evidence of reduced genetic diversity in translocated populations. Average expected microsatellite heterozygosities (HE) were similar in all populations (range, 0.40–0.47), and mtDNA haplotype diversities were higher in reintroduced populations (0.51 for both Washington and southeast Alaska) than in remnant populations (X̄ = 0.35; range, 0.18–0.45). The levels of genetic diversity we observed within sea otter populations were relatively low when compared with other mammals and are thought to be the result of fur trade exploitation.

  5. Genetic diversity among sea otter isolates of Toxoplasma gondii

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have been reported to become infected with Toxoplasma gondii and at times succumb to clinical disease. The mode of marine contamination has been the subject of recent papers. Because of their susceptibility these animals can serve as a sentinel for contamination of marine...

  6. Serum vitamin A concentrations in captive sea otters (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Righton, Alison L; St Leger, Judy A; Schmitt, Todd; Murray, Michael J; Adams, Lance; Fascetti, Andrea J

    2011-03-01

    Individual dietary preferences and difficulty with animal training create challenges and nutritional concerns when evaluating a captive sea otter (Enhydra lutris) diet. The importance of vitamin A within the body reflects the necessity that it be ingested in adequate amounts to ensure optimal health. To compare levels of serum vitamin A concentrations from captive sea otters on daily oral vitamin A supplementation, serum samples from eight adult sea otters from three institutions were evaluated for serum vitamin A concentrations. The eight animals were fed a total of four different diets and received oral supplementation via three different methods. Multiple diet items were analyzed for vitamin A content and were found to have low to nondetectable levels of vitamin A. Oral vitamin A supplementation, as a slurry with dietary items, was shown to be effective and a mean serum concentration of approximately 170 +/- 51 microg/L was obtained for serum vitamin A concentrations in captive sea otters. Captive diets can be modified to increase vitamin A concentration and supplementation and, if accepted, can be used as a means to ensure adequate vitamin A intake.

  7. Changes in Alaskan soft-bottom prey communities along a gradient in sea otter predation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kvitek, R.G.; Oliver, J.S.; DeGange, A.R.; Anderson, B.S.

    1992-01-01

    Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris), well documented as "keystone" predators in rocky marine communities, were found to exert a strong influence on infaunal prey communities in soft-sediment habitats. Direct and indirect effects of sea otter predation on subtidal soft-bottom prey communities were evaluated along a temporal gradient of sea otter occupancy around the Kodiak Archipelago. The results indicate that Kodiak otters forage primarily on bivalve prey and dramatically reduce infaunal bivalve and green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) prey populations. Bivalve prey abundance, biomass, and size were inversely related to duration of sea otter occupancy. The relative conditions of shells discarded by otters in shallow (<10 m) vs. deep (> 20 m) water at the same sites indicate that otters first exploited Saxidomus in shallow-water feeding areas, and later switched to Macoma spp. in deeper water. Otter-cracked shells of the deep-burrowing clam Tresus capax were rarely found, even at otter foraging sites where the clam accounted for the majority of available prey biomass, suggesting that it has a partial depth refuge from otter predation. The indirect effects of otter predation included substratum disturbance and the facilitation of sea star predation on infaunal prey. Sea stars, Pycnopodia helianthoides, were attracted to experimentally dug excavations as well as natural sea otter foraging pits, where the sea stars foraged on smaller size classes of infaunal bivalves than those eaten by otters. Otters also discard clam shells on the sediment surface and expose old, buried shells during excavation. Surface shells were found to provide attachment sites for large anemones and kelp. Our study shows that sea otters can affect soft-sediment communities, not only through predation, as in rocky habitats, but also through disturbance, and thus retain a high degree of influence in two very different habitat types.

  8. Lesions and behavior associated with forced copulation of juvenile Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) by southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Harris, H.S.; Oates, S.C.; Staedler, M.M.; Tinker, M.T.; Jessup, David A.; Harvey, J.T.; Miller, M.A.

    2010-01-01

    Nineteen occurrences of interspecific sexual behavior between male southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) and juvenile Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) were reported in Monterey Bay, California, between 2000 and 2002. At least three different male sea otters were observed harassing, dragging, guarding, and copulating with harbor seals for up to 7 d postmortem. Carcasses of 15 juvenile harbor seals were recovered, and seven were necropsied in detail by a veterinary pathologist. Necropsy findings from two female sea otters that were recovered dead from male sea otters exhibiting similar behavior are also presented to facilitate a comparison of lesions. The most frequent lesions included superficial skin lacerations; hemorrhage around the nose, eyes, flippers, and perineum; and traumatic corneal erosions or ulcers. The harbor seals sustained severe genital trauma, ranging from vaginal perforation to vagino-cervical transection, and colorectal perforations as a result of penile penetration. One harbor seal developed severe pneumoperitoneum subsequent to vaginal perforation, which was also observed in both female sea otters and has been reported as a postcoital lesion in humans. This study represents the first description of lesions resulting from forced copulation of harbor seals by sea otters and is also the first report of pneumoperitoneum secondary to forced copulation in a nonhuman animal. Possible explanations for this behavior are discussed in the context of sea otter biology and population demographics.

  9. Gene transcription in sea otters (Enhydra lutris); development of a diagnostic tool for sea otter and ecosystem health

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Murray, Michael; Haulena, Martin; Tuttle, Judy; van Bonn, William; Adams, Lance; Bodkin, James L.; Ballachey, Brenda; Estes, James A.; Tinker, M. Tim; Keister, Robin; Stott, Jeffrey L.

    2012-01-01

    Gene transcription analysis for diagnosing or monitoring wildlife health requires the ability to distinguish pathophysiological change from natural variation. Herein, we describe methodology for the development of quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays to measure differential transcript levels of multiple immune function genes in the sea otter (Enhydra lutris); sea otter-specific qPCR primer sequences for the genes of interest are defined. We establish a ‘reference’ range of transcripts for each gene in a group of clinically healthy captive and free-ranging sea otters. The 10 genes of interest represent multiple physiological systems that play a role in immuno-modulation, inflammation, cell protection, tumour suppression, cellular stress response, xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes, antioxidant enzymes and cell–cell adhesion. The cycle threshold (CT) measures for most genes were normally distributed; the complement cytolysis inhibitor was the exception. The relative enumeration of multiple gene transcripts in simple peripheral blood samples expands the diagnostic capability currently available to assess the health of sea otters in situ and provides a better understanding of the state of their environment.

  10. Gene transcription in sea otters (Enhydra lutris); development of a diagnostic tool for sea otter and ecosystem health.

    PubMed

    Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A Keith; Murray, Michael; Haulena, Martin; Tuttle, Judy; Van Bonn, William; Adams, Lance; Bodkin, James L; Ballachey, Brenda; Estes, James; Tinker, M Tim; Keister, Robin; Stott, Jeffrey L

    2012-01-01

    Gene transcription analysis for diagnosing or monitoring wildlife health requires the ability to distinguish pathophysiological change from natural variation. Herein, we describe methodology for the development of quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays to measure differential transcript levels of multiple immune function genes in the sea otter (Enhydra lutris); sea otter-specific qPCR primer sequences for the genes of interest are defined. We establish a 'reference' range of transcripts for each gene in a group of clinically healthy captive and free-ranging sea otters. The 10 genes of interest represent multiple physiological systems that play a role in immuno-modulation, inflammation, cell protection, tumour suppression, cellular stress response, xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes, antioxidant enzymes and cell-cell adhesion. The cycle threshold (C(T)) measures for most genes were normally distributed; the complement cytolysis inhibitor was the exception. The relative enumeration of multiple gene transcripts in simple peripheral blood samples expands the diagnostic capability currently available to assess the health of sea otters in situ and provides a better understanding of the state of their environment.

  11. Variations of transcript profiles between sea otters Enhydra lutris from Prince William Sound, Alaska, and clinically normal reference otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Miles, A. Keith; Bowen, Lizabeth; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Bodkin, James L.; Murray, M.; Estes, J.L.; Keister, Robin A.; Stott, J.L.

    2012-01-01

    Development of blood leukocyte gene transcript profiles has the potential to expand condition assessments beyond those currently available to evaluate wildlife health, including sea otters Enhydra lutris, both individually and as populations. The 10 genes targeted in our study represent multiple physiological systems that play a role in immuno-modulation, inflammation, cell protection, tumor suppression, cellular stress-response, xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes, and antioxidant enzymes. These genes can be modified by biological, physical, or anthropogenic impacts and consequently provide information on the general type of stressors present in a given environment. We compared gene transcript profiles of sea otters sampled in 2008 among areas within Prince William Sound impacted to varying degrees by the 1989 ‘Exxon Valdez’ oil spill with those of captive and wild reference sea otters. Profiles of sea otters from Prince William Sound showed elevated transcription in genes associated with tumor formation, cell death, organic exposure, inflammation, and viral exposure when compared to the reference sea otter group, indicating possible recent and chronic exposure to organic contaminants. Sea otters from historically designated oiled areas within Prince William Sound 19 yr after the oil spill had higher transcription of genes associated with tumor formation, cell death, heat shock, and inflammation than those from areas designated as less impacted by the spill.

  12. Individual variation in prey selection by sea otters: Patterns, causes and implications

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Estes, J.A.; Riedman, M.L.; Staedler, M.M.; Tinker, M.T.; Lyon, B.E.

    2003-01-01

    1. Longitudinal records of prey selection by 10 adult female sea otters on the Monterey Peninsula, California, from 1983 to 1990 demonstrate extreme inter-individual variation in diet. Variation in prey availability cannot explain these differences as the data were obtained from a common spatial-temporal area. 2. Individual dietary patterns persisted throughout our study, thus indicating that they are life-long characteristics. 3. Individual dietary patterns in sea otters appear to be transmitted along matrilines, probably by way of learning during the period of mother-young association. 4. Efficient utilization of different prey types probably requires radically different sensory/motor skills, each of which is difficult to acquire and all of which may exceed the learning and performance capacities of any single individual. This would explain the absence of generalists and inertia against switching, but not the existence of alternative specialists. 5. Such individual variation might arise in a constant environment from frequency-dependent effects, whereby the relative benefit of a given prey specialization depends on the number of other individuals utilizing that prey. Additionally, many of the sea otter's prey fluctuate substantially in abundance through time. This temporal variation, in conjunction with matrilineal transmission of foraging skills, may act to mediate the temporal dynamics of prey specializations. 6. Regardless of the exact cause, such extreme individual variation in diet has broad ramifications for population and community ecology. 7. The published literature indicates that similar patterns occur in many other species.

  13. Sea otter studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Kloecker, K.A.; Esslinger, G.G.; Monson, D.H.; DeGroot, J.D.; Doherty, J.

    2002-01-01

    Following translocations to the outer coast of Southeast Alaska in 1965, sea otters have been expanding their range and increasing in abundance. We began conducting surveys for sea otters in Cross Sound, Icy Strait, and Glacier Bay, Alaska in 1994, following initial reports (in 1993) of their presence in Glacier Bay. Since 1995, the number of sea otters in Glacier Bay proper has increased from around 5 to more than 1500. Between 1993 and 1997 sea otters were apparently only occasional visitors to Glacier Bay, but in 1998 long-term residence was established as indicated by the presence of adult females and their dependent pups. Sea otter distribution is limited to the Lower Bay, south of Sandy Cove, and is not continuous within that area. Concentrations occur in the vicinity of Sita Reef and Boulder Island and between Pt. Carolus and Rush Pt. on the west side of the Bay (Figure 1). We describe the diet of sea otters during 2001 in Glacier Bay based on visual observations of prey during 456 successful forage dives. In Glacier Bay, diet consisted of 62% clam, 15% mussel, 9% crab, 7% unidentified, 4& urchins, and 4% other. Most prey recovered by sea otters are commercially, socially, or ecologically important species. Species of clam include Saxidomus gigantea, Protothaca staminea, and Mya truncata. Urchins are primarily Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis and the mussel is Modiolus modiolus. Crabs include species of three genera: Cancer, Chinoecetes, and Telmessus. Although we characterize diet at broad geographic scales, we found diet to vary between sites separated by as little as several hundred meters. Dietary variation among and within sites can reflect differences in prey availability and individual specialization. We estimated species composition, density, biomass, and sizes of subtidal clams, urchins, and mussels at 9 sites in lower Glacier Bay. All sites were selected based on the presence of abundant clam siphons. Sites were not selected to allow inference to

  14. Are sea otters being exposed to subsurface intertidal oil residues from the Exxon Valdez oil spill?

    PubMed

    Boehm, P D; Page, D S; Neff, J M; Brown, J S

    2011-03-01

    Twenty years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scattered patches of subsurface oil residues (SSOR) can still be found in intertidal sediments at a small number of shoreline locations in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Some scientists hypothesize that sea otters continue to be exposed to SSOR by direct contact when otters dig pits in search of clams. This hypothesis is examined through site-specific examinations where SSOR and otter-dug pits co-occur. Surveys documented the exact sediment characteristics and locations on the shore at the only three subdivisions where both SSOR and otter pits were found after 2000. Shoreline characteristics and tidal heights where SSOR have persisted are not suitable habitat for sea otters to dig pits during foraging. There is clear separation between areas containing SSOR and otter foraging pits. The evidence allows us to reject the hypothesis that sea otters encounter and are being exposed by direct contact to SSOR.

  15. Measurement of serum immunoglobulin concentration in killer whales and sea otters by radial immunodiffusion.

    PubMed

    Taylor, Bernadette C; Brotheridge, Rory M; Jessup, David A; Stott, Jeffrey L

    2002-10-28

    Killer whales and sea otters maintained in captivity are the subjects of routine health monitoring programs, and interest in immunologic studies in sea otters has been rising recently in response to potential impacts from infectious disease and environmental pollution on the threatened southern sea otter population. Development of species-specific reagents for immunologic studies in these two marine mammals is currently in its infancy. In this study, killer whale and sea otter immunoglobulin-specific polyclonal antibodies were generated, and used to develop tests for serum Ig concentration in the killer whale (Orcinus orca) and the southern (Enhydra lutris nereis) and northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris lutris). Killer whale serum IgG was purified using caprylic acid/ammonium sulfate precipitation. Sea otter plasma IgG was purified using protein-A-agarose. Polyclonal anti-Ig antisera were produced in rabbits, and specificity confirmed by immunoelectrophoresis. Radial immunodiffusion was used to measure Ig concentration in serum or plasma samples derived from 21 captive killer whales, 18 wild and 4 captive southern sea otters and 15 wild and 4 captive northern sea otters grouped by age. Mean killer whale serum Ig concentration (+/-95% confidence interval) ranged from 15.04 +/- 3.97 g/l for animals aged 0-5 years to 26.65 +/- 9.8 g/l for animals aged >10 years. Mean sea otter serum Ig concentration (+/-95% confidence interval) ranged from 28.39 +/- 11.00 g/l for southern sub-adults to 32.76 +/- 11.58 g/l for southern adults. No significant difference in serum Ig concentration was found between southern and northern sea otters. Serum Ig concentrations in two northern sea otter pups were low compared to those of adult sea otters. The two serum Ig quantitation assays produced were highly specific and reproducible and will be useful additions to the limited number of tests available for immune function in these marine mammal species.

  16. Verification of sex from harvested sea otters using DNA testing

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Scribner, K.T.; Green, B.A.; Gorbics, C.; Bodkin, J.

    2005-01-01

    We used molecular genetic methods to determine the sex of 138 sea otters (Enhydra lutris) harvested from 3 regions of Alaska from 1994 to 1997, to assess the accuracy of post-harvest field-sexing. We also tested each of a series of factors associated with errors in field-sexing of sea otters, including male or female bias, age-class bias, regional bias, and bias associated with hunt characteristics. Blind control results indicated that sex was determined with 100% accuracy using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification using primers that co-amplify the zinc finger-Y-X gene, located on both the mammalian Y- and X-chromosomes, and Testes Determining Factor (TDF), located on the mammalian Y-chromosome. DNA-based sexing revealed that 12.3% of the harvested sea otters were incorrectly sexed in the field, with most errors (13 of 17) occurring as males incorrectly reported as females. Thus, female harvest was overestimated. Using logistic regression analysis, we detected no statistical association of incorrect determination of sex in the field with age class, hunt region, or hunt type. The error in field-sexing appears to be random, at least with respect to the variables evaluated in this study.

  17. Stock structure of sea otters (Enhydra Lutris Kenyoni) in Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gorbics, C.S.; Bodkin, J.L.

    2001-01-01

    Sea otters in Alaska are recognized as a single subspecies (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) and currently managed as a single, interbreeding population. However, geographic and behavioral mechanisms undoubtably constrain sea otter movements on much smaller scales. This paper applies the phylogeographic method (Dizon et al. 1992) and considers distribution, population response, phenotype and genotype data to identify stocks of sea otters within Alaska. The evidence for separate stock identity is genotypic (all stocks), phenotypic (Southcentral and Southwest stocks), and geographic distribution (Southeast stock), whereas population response data are equivocal (all stocks). Differences in genotype frequencies and the presence of unique genotypes among areas indicate restricted gene flow. Genetic exchange may be limited by little or no movement across proposed stock boundaries and discontinuities in distribution at proposed stock boundaries. Skull size differences (phenotypic) between Southwest and Southcentral Alaska populations further support stock separation. Population response information was equivocal in either supporting or refuting stock identity. On the basis of this review, we suggest the following: (1) a Southeast stock extending from Dixon Entrance to Cape Yakataga; (2) a Southcentral stock extending from Cape Yakataga to Cape Douglas including Prince William Sound and Kenai peninsula coast; and (3) a Southwest stock including Alaska Peninsula coast, the Aleutians to Attu Island, Barren, Kodiak, Pribilof Islands, and Bristol Bay.

  18. Sea otters in captivity: applications and implications of husbandry development, public display, scientific research and management, and rescue and rehabilitation for sea otter conservation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Vanblaricom, Glenn R.; Belting, Traci F.; Triggs, Lisa H.

    2015-01-01

    Studies of sea otters in captivity began in 1932, producing important insights for conservation. Soviet (initiated in 1932) and United States (1951) studies provided information on captive otter husbandry, setting the stage for eventual large-scale translocations as tools for population restoration. Early studies also informed effective housing of animals in zoos and aquaria, with sea otters first publicly displayed in 1954. Surveys credited displayed otters in convincing the public of conservation values. After early studies, initial scientific data for captive sea otters in aquaria came from work initiated in 1956, and from dedicated research facilities beginning in 1968. Significant achievements have been made in studies of behavior, physiology, reproduction, and high-priority management issues. Larger-scale projects involving translocation and oil spill response provided extensive insights into stress reactions, water quality issues in captivity, and effects of oil spills.

  19. Detection of sea otters in boat-based surveys of Prince William Sound, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Udevitz, Mark S.; Bodkin, James L.; Costa, Daniel P.

    1995-01-01

    Boat-based surveys have been commonly used to monitor sea otter populations, but there has been little quantitative work to evaluate detection biases that may affect these surveys. We used ground-based observers to investigate sea otter detection probabilities in a boat-based survey of Prince William Sound, Alaska. We estimated that 30% of the otters present on surveyed transects were not detected by boat crews. Approximately half (53%) of the undetected otters were missed because the otters left the transects, apparently in response to the approaching boat. Unbiased estimates of detection probabilities will be required for obtaining unbiased population estimates from boat-based surveys of sea otters. Therefore, boat-based surveys should include methods to estimate sea otter detection probabilities under the conditions specific to each survey. Unbiased estimation of detection probabilities with ground-based observers requires either that the ground crews detect all of the otters in observed subunits, or that there are no errors in determining which crews saw each detected otter. Ground-based observer methods may be appropriate in areas where nearly all of the sea otter habitat is potentially visible from ground-based vantage points.

  20. Status and Trends of Sea Otter Populations in Southeast Alaska, 1969-2003

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Esslinger, George G.; Bodkin, James L.

    2009-01-01

    Aerial surveys of all known sea otter (Enhydra lutris) habitat in Southeast Alaska (SE AK) in 2002-2003 indicated a population size of 8,949 otters [Standard Error (SE) = 899] at an average density of 0.92 otters per square kilometer. These findings on sea otter distribution and abundance were compared to results from several previous surveys. Sea otters have expanded their range beyond the outer coast of SE AK and currently occupy inside waters such as Glacier Bay and Sumner Strait. This range expansion, along with archeological evidence, supports the hypothesis that sea otters are capable of colonizing inside waters in SE AK. Inside Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, in northern SE AK, sea otter abundance has increased from 5 in 1995 to 1,266 (SE = 196) in 2002, more than doubling on an average annual basis, indicating immigration and reproduction as factors contributing to population growth. In the remainder of northern SE AK, the estimated abundance has declined from 2,295 in 1987 to 1,838 (SE = 307) in 2002. In southern SE AK, the abundance of sea otters increased from 2,167 in 1988 to 5,845 (SE = 821) in 2003. Overall, population growth rates for sea otters in SE AK between 1987 and 2003 are much lower than rates from previous studies and were unexpected given the amount of unoccupied habitat available in SE AK. Divergent population trajectories were evident between the southern (6.6 percent per year) and northern areas of SE AK (2.0 percent per year). These differences suggest variation in reproductive or survival rates between the areas. Harvest levels between 1989 and 2003 may have had a measurable effect on sea otter populations in SE AK. Available data on age and sex specific fecundity and survival rates could be used to develop age- and sex-structured population matrix models to help guide management and conservation of sea otter populations.

  1. 77 FR 75265 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Termination of the Southern Sea Otter...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-12-19

    ...We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are removing the regulations that govern the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) translocation program, including the establishment of an experimental population of southern sea otters, and all associated management actions. Removal of the regulations terminates the program. We analyzed the environmental consequences of this action, and......

  2. Sarcomas in three free-ranging northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) in Alaska.

    PubMed

    Burek-Huntington, Kathy A; Mulcahy, Daniel M; Doroff, Angela M; Johnson, Todd O

    2012-04-01

    Three sarcomas were diagnosed in wild northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) during the mid- to late 1990s. Histologically, the tumors were a chondrosarcoma and two low-grade fibrosarcomas with myofibroblastic cell differentiation. The three sea otters were surviving in the wild and were killed by hunters.

  3. Stable lead isotopes evidence anthropogenic contamination in Alaskan sea otters

    SciTech Connect

    Smith, D.R.; Estes, J.A.; Flegal, A.R. ); Niemeyer, S. )

    1990-10-01

    Lead concentrations and stable isotopic compositions were measured in teeth of preindustrial and contemporary sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from Amchitka Island, AK, to determine if changes had occurred in the magnitude and source of assimilated lead. Although there was no significant difference in lead concentrations between the two groups of otters ({bar x} {plus minus} {sigma}Pb/Ca atomic = 3.6 {plus minus} 2.9 {times} 10{sup {minus}8}), differences in stable lead isotopic compositions revealed a pronounced change in the source of accumulated lead. Lead {bar x} {plus minus} 2{sigma}{sub {bar x}} in the preindustrial otters ({sup 207}Pb/{sup 206}Pb = 0.828 {plus minus} 0.006) was derived from natural deposits in the Aleutian arc, while lead in the contemporary animals ({sup 207}Pb/{sup 206}Pb = 0.856 {plus minus} 0.003) was primarily industrial lead from Asia and western Canada. The isotopic ratios demonstrate anthropogenic perturbations of the lead cycle in present-day coastal food webs and indicate that lead concentration measurements alone are inadequate in assessing the introduction and transport of contaminant lead in the environment.

  4. An aerial survey method to estimate sea otter abundance

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Udevitz, M.S.; Garner, G.W.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Laake, J.L.; Manly, B. F. J.; McDonald, L.L.; Robertson, Donna G.

    1999-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) occur in shallow coastal habitats and can be highly visible on the sea surface. They generally rest in groups and their detection depends on factors that include sea conditions, viewing platform, observer technique and skill, distance, habitat and group size. While visible on the surface, they are difficult to see while diving and may dive in response to an approaching survey platform. We developed and tested an aerial survey method that uses intensive searches within portions of strip transects to adjust for availability and sightability biases. Correction factors are estimated independently for each survey and observer. In tests of our method using shore-based observers, we estimated detection probabilities of 0.52-0.72 in standard strip-transects and 0.96 in intensive searches. We used the survey method in Prince William Sound, Alaska to estimate a sea otter population size of 9,092 (SE = 1422). The new method represents an improvement over various aspects of previous methods, but additional development and testing will be required prior to its broad application.

  5. Osteosarcoma of the maxilla with concurrent osteoma in a southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Fernandez, J. Rodriguez-Ramos; Thomas, N.J.; Dubielzig, R.R.; Drees, R.

    2012-01-01

    Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) are threatened marine mammals that belong to the family Mustelidae and are native to the coast of Central California. Neoplasia is reported infrequently in seaotters. An adult female free-ranging southern sea otter was found alive at Pebble Beach, Monterey County, California, on January 1st, 1994 and died soon after capture. The carcass was submitted to the US Geological Survey – National Wildlife Health Center for necropsy examination. Grossly, a mass with rubbery texture was firmly attached to the left maxillary region of the skull and the nasopharynx was occluded by soft neoplastic tissue. Post-mortem skull radiographs showed an oval, smoothly marginated mineralized opaque mass centered on the left maxilla, extending from the canine tooth to caudal to the molar and replacing portions of the zygomatic arch and palatine and temporal bones. The majority of the mass protruded laterally from the maxilla and was characterized by central homogeneous mineral opacity. Microscopically, the mass was characterized by fully differentiated lamellar non-osteonal bone that expanded beyond the margins of the adjacent normal osteonal bone. Sections of the nasopharyngeal mass were comprised of moderately pleomorphic cells with bony stroma. Gross, microscopical and radiological findings were compatible with maxillary osteosarcoma with concurrent osteoma.

  6. Hydrocarbon concentrations and patterns in free-ranging sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from British Columbia, Canada.

    PubMed

    Harris, Kate A; Nichol, Linda M; Ross, Peter S

    2011-10-01

    With oil pollution recognized as a major threat to British Columbia's recovering sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population, it is important to distinguish acute from chronic exposures to oil constituent groups in this marine mammal. Concentrations and patterns of alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were determined in blood samples from 29 live-captured sea otters in two coastal areas of British Columbia, as well as in representative samples of their invertebrate prey. Hydrocarbon concentrations in sea otters were similar between areas and among age and sex classes, suggesting that metabolism dominates the fate of these compounds in sea otters. Biomagnification factors derived from PAH ratios in otter:prey supported this notion. Although some higher alkylated three- and four-ring PAHs appeared to biomagnify, the majority of PAHs did not. The apparent retention of alkyl PAHs was reflected in the composition of estimated sea otter body burdens, which provided an alternative way of evaluating hydrocarbon exposure. Alkyl PAHs made up 86 ± 9% of estimated body burdens (4,340 ± 2,950 µg), with no differences between males and females (p = 0.18). The importance of measuring both parent and alkyl PAHs is underscored by their divergent dynamics in sea otters, with ready depuration of parent PAHs (metabolized or excreted) by sea otters on the one hand and biomagnification of alkyl PAHs on the other.

  7. Food limitation and the recovery of sea otters following the 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dean, Thomas A.; Bodkin, James L.; Fukuyama, A.K.; Jewett, Stephen C.; Monson, Daniel H.; O'Clair, Charles E.; Vanblaricom, Glenn R.

    2002-01-01

    We examined the potential role of food limitation in constraining the recovery of sea otters Enhydra lutris in Prince William Sound, Alaska, following the 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill. The spill resulted in the removal of a large number of sea otters in 1989, and as of 1998, the portion of the population in the heavily oiled northern Knight Island region had not fully recovered. Between 1996 and 1998, prey consumption rate was higher and the condition of sea otters was better at northern Knight Island than in an unoiled area of the sound (Montague Island). Estimates of prey energy available per unit mass of sea otter were about 4 times higher at Knight than Montague Island, albeit not significantly different between the 2 areas. Over this same period, the number of sea otters remained constant at northern Knight Island but increased at Montague Island. These data suggest that food was at least as abundant at Knight than at Montague Island, and that recovery of sea otters via intrinsic population growth was limited by factors other than food. However, the availability of food, the prey consumption rate, and the condition of sea otters were all much lower at both Knight and Montague Islands than in areas newly occupied by sea otters where the population growth rate was near the theoretical maximum. It is possible that the relatively short supply of food (compared to areas where sea otter population growth rate was high) may have inhibited immigration or interacted with other factors (e.g. oil-induced mortality or predation) to restrict sea otter population growth. Nonetheless, these data suggest that impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on large, often food-limited vertebrate predators can persist in spite of the availability of food resources that are sufficient for intrinsic population growth.

  8. Trade-offs between energy maximization and parental care in a central place forager, the sea otter

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Thometz, N M; Staedler, M.M.; Tomoleoni, Joseph; Bodkin, James L.; Bentall, G.B.; Tinker, M. Tim

    2016-01-01

    Between 1999 and 2014, 126 archival time–depth recorders (TDRs) were used to examine the foraging behavior of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) off the coast of California, in both resource-abundant (recently occupied, low sea otter density) and resource-limited (long-occupied, high sea otter density) locations. Following predictions of foraging theory, sea otters generally behaved as energy rate maximizers. Males and females without pups employed similar foraging strategies to optimize rates of energy intake in resource-limited habitats, with some exceptions. Both groups increased overall foraging effort and made deeper, longer and more energetically costly dives as resources became limited, but males were more likely than females without pups to utilize extreme dive profiles. In contrast, females caring for young pups (≤10 weeks) prioritized parental care over energy optimization. The relative importance of parental care versus energy optimization for adult females with pups appeared to reflect developmental changes as dependent young matured. Indeed, contrary to females during the initial stages of lactation, females with large pups approaching weaning once again prioritized optimizing energy intake. The increasing prioritization of energy optimization over the course of lactation was possible due to the physiological development of pups and likely driven by the energetic deficit incurred by females early in lactation. Our results suggest that regardless of resource availability, females at the end of lactation approach a species-specific ceiling for percent time foraging and that reproductive females in the central portion of the current southern sea otter range are disproportionately affected by resource limitation.

  9. Sarcocystis neurona retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dubey, J.P.; Thomas, N.J.

    2011-01-01

    Sarcocystis neurona is an important cause of fatal disease in sea otters in the USA. Encephalitis is the predominant lesion and parasites are confined to the central nervous system and muscles. Here we report retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) found dead on Copalis Beach, WA, USA. Salient lesions were confined to the brain and eye. Multifocal nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis was present in the cerebrum and cerebellum associated with S. neurona schizonts. The retina of one eye had a focus of inflammation that contained numerous S. neurona schizonts and merozoites. The focus extended from the retinal pigment epithelium inward through all layers of the retina, but inflammation was most concentrated at the inner surface of the tapetum and the outer retina. The inner and outer nuclear layers of the retina were disorganized and irregular at the site of inflammation. There was severe congestion and mild hemorrhage in the choroid, and mild hemorrhage into the vitreous body. Immunohistochemistry with S. neurona-specific polyclonal rabbit antibodies stained schizonts and merozoites. To our knowledge this is the first report of S. neurona-associated retinochoroiditis in any naturally infected animal.

  10. Sarcocystis neurona retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dubey, J.P.; Thomas, N.J.

    2011-01-01

    Sarcocystis neurona is an important cause of fatal disease in sea otters in the USA. Encephalitis is the predominant lesion and parasites are confined to the central nervous system and muscles. Here we report retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) found dead on Copalis Beach, WA, USA. Salient lesions were confined to the brain and eye. Multifocal nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis was present in the cerebrum and cerebellum associated with S. neurona schizonts. The retina of one eye had a focus of inflammation that contained numerous S. neurona schizonts and merozoites. The focus extended from the retinal pigment epithelium inward through all layers of the retina, but inflammation was most concentrated at the inner surface of the tapetum and the outer retina. The inner and outer nuclear layers of the retina were disorganized and irregular at the site of inflammation. There was severe congestion and mild hemorrhage in the choroid, and mild hemorrhage into the vitreous body. Immunohistochemistry with S. neurona-specific polyclonal rabbit antibodies stained schizonts and merozoites. To our knowledge this is the first report of S. neurona-associated retinochoroiditis in any naturally infected animal. ?? 2011 Elsevier B.V.

  11. Sarcocystis neurona retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni).

    PubMed

    Dubey, J P; Thomas, N J

    2011-12-29

    Sarcocystis neurona is an important cause of fatal disease in sea otters in the USA. Encephalitis is the predominant lesion and parasites are confined to the central nervous system and muscles. Here we report retinochoroiditis in a sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) found dead on Copalis Beach, WA, USA. Salient lesions were confined to the brain and eye. Multifocal nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis was present in the cerebrum and cerebellum associated with S. neurona schizonts. The retina of one eye had a focus of inflammation that contained numerous S. neurona schizonts and merozoites. The focus extended from the retinal pigment epithelium inward through all layers of the retina, but inflammation was most concentrated at the inner surface of the tapetum and the outer retina. The inner and outer nuclear layers of the retina were disorganized and irregular at the site of inflammation. There was severe congestion and mild hemorrhage in the choroid, and mild hemorrhage into the vitreous body. Immunohistochemistry with S. neurona-specific polyclonal rabbit antibodies stained schizonts and merozoites. To our knowledge this is the first report of S. neurona-associated retinochoroiditis in any naturally infected animal.

  12. Adaptation to hard-object feeding in sea otters and hominins.

    PubMed

    Constantino, Paul J; Lee, James J-W; Morris, Dylan; Lucas, Peter W; Hartstone-Rose, Adam; Lee, Wah-Keat; Dominy, Nathaniel J; Cunningham, Andrew; Wagner, Mark; Lawn, Brian R

    2011-07-01

    The large, bunodont postcanine teeth in living sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have been likened to those of certain fossil hominins, particularly the 'robust' australopiths (genus Paranthropus). We examine this evolutionary convergence by conducting fracture experiments on extracted molar teeth of sea otters and modern humans (Homo sapiens) to determine how load-bearing capacity relates to tooth morphology and enamel material properties. In situ optical microscopy and x-ray imaging during simulated occlusal loading reveal the nature of the fracture patterns. Explicit fracture relations are used to analyze the data and to extrapolate the results from humans to earlier hominins. It is shown that the molar teeth of sea otters have considerably thinner enamel than those of humans, making sea otter molars more susceptible to certain kinds of fractures. At the same time, the base diameter of sea otter first molars is larger, diminishing the fracture susceptibility in a compensatory manner. We also conduct nanoindentation tests to map out elastic modulus and hardness of sea otter and human molars through a section thickness, and microindentation tests to measure toughness. We find that while sea otter enamel is just as stiff elastically as human enamel, it is a little softer and tougher. The role of these material factors in the capacity of dentition to resist fracture and deformation is considered. From such comparisons, we argue that early hominin species like Paranthropus most likely consumed hard food objects with substantially higher biting forces than those exerted by modern humans.

  13. Modeling the Effects of Mortality on Sea Otter Populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Ballachey, Brenda E.

    2010-01-01

    Conservation and management of sea otters can benefit from managing the magnitude and sex composition of human related mortality, including harvesting within sustainable levels. Using age and sex-specific reproduction and survival rates from field studies, we created matrix population models representing sea otter populations with growth rates of 1.005, 1.072, and 1.145, corresponding to stable, moderate, and rapid rates of change. In each modeled population, we incrementally imposed additional annual mortality over a 20-year period and calculated average annual rates of change (lambda). Additional mortality was applied to (1) males only, (2) at a 1:1 ratio of male to female, and (3) at a 3:1 ratio of male to female. Dependent pups (age 0-0.5) were excluded from the mortality. Maintaining a stable or slightly increasing population was largely dependent on (1) the magnitude of additional mortality, (2) the underlying rate of change in the population during the period of additional mortality, and (3) the extent that females were included in the additional mortality (due to a polygnous reproductive system where one male may breed with more than one female). In stable populations, additional mortality as high as 2.4 percent was sustainable if limited to males only, but was reduced to 1.2 percent when males and females were removed at ratios of 3:1 or 0.5 percent at ratios of 1:1. In moderate growth populations, additional mortality of 9.8 percent (male-only) and 15.0 percent (3:1 male to female) maximized the sustainable mortality about 3-10 ten-fold over the stable population levels. However, if additional mortality consists of males and females at equal proportions, the sustainable rate is 7.7 percent. In rapid growth populations, maximum sustainable levels of mortality as high as 27.3 percent were achieved when the ratio of additional mortality was 3:1 male to female. Although male-only mortality maximized annual harvest in stable populations, high male biased

  14. Sea otters past and present perspectives

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.

    2000-01-01

    During the 1961 waterfowl hunting season, 360 stomachs of 10 duck species were collected from hunters near the Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Marion, South Carolina. Based on percentage of total volume, 20 of the most important foods are listed. The six most important duck species in the kill were: mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), wood duck (Aix sponsa), widgeon (Mareca americam), pintail (Anas acuta) , black duck ( Anas rubripes) , and green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis). Six plant species made up 5 percent or more of the total volume of food items found in the stomachs of all ducks. Only seeds of oaks (Quercus sp.), corn, sweet gum (Liquidambar Styraciflua), and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) were consumed. Some seed, but mostly the vegetative portions of hydrochloa (Hydrochloa carolinensis) and only the vegetative portions of southern rice cutgrass (Leersia hexandra) were taken. The more important game ducks concentrated on the refuge farmlands when water levels were below 72 feet mean sea level (msl). When levels reached 75 feet msl, natural foods became available, ducks dispersed from refuge areas, and hunting success increased greatly.

  15. Auditory Sensitivity and Masking Profiles for the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Ghoul, Asila; Reichmuth, Colleen

    2016-01-01

    Sea otters are threatened marine mammals that may be negatively impacted by human-generated coastal noise, yet information about sound reception in this species is surprisingly scarce. We investigated amphibious hearing in sea otters by obtaining the first measurements of absolute sensitivity and critical masking ratios. Auditory thresholds were measured in air and underwater from 0.125 to 40 kHz. Critical ratios derived from aerial masked thresholds from 0.25 to 22.6 kHz were also obtained. These data indicate that although sea otters can detect underwater sounds, their hearing appears to be primarily air adapted and not specialized for detecting signals in background noise.

  16. Postrelease monitoring of radio-instrumented sea otters in Prince William Sound

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Monnett, C.; Rotterman, L.M.; Stack, C.; Monson, Daniel H.; Bayha, Keith; Kormendy, Jennifer

    1990-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) that were captured in western Prince William Sound (PWS) or the Gulf of Alaska, treated, and held in captivity at the temporary rehabilitation centers established in response to the T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill were instrumented with radio transmitters, released into eastern PWS, and monitored by radiotelemetry. We undertook the present study to gain information for guiding the release of the remaining captive otters and evaluating the efficacy of sea otter rehabilitation after exposure to crude oil. Radio transmitters were attached to the flippers of seven sea otters released in May 1989 and monitored for periods of a few hours to more than 60 days. However, little was learned about the fate of these animals because the radio transmitters used proved unreliable. Forty-five additional sea otters from the rehabilitation centers were implanted with radio transmitters, released into northeastern PWS and monitored for 8 months. During the first 20 days after the first release of these implanted otters (n = 21), they were more mobile than wild-caught and released sea otters studied in PWS, from 1984 through 1990. All were alive and vigorous at the end of the 20-day period. Tracking of all 45 implanted sea otters during the 8-month period showed that the otters remained highly mobile. Many (46.6%) crossed into western PWS. However, by the end of the 8 months, 12 of the instrumented otters were dead and 9 were missing. One radio failed. These mortality and missing rates are much higher than those normally observed for adult sea otters in PWS. The death rate was highest in winter. These data suggest that, despite the tremendous amount of money and energy directed toward the treatment and care of these animals, the sea otters released from the centers were not completely rehabilitated, that is, not returned to a normal state. We recommend that future policies focus on preventing otters from becoming oiled, rather than attempting to treat them

  17. Bald eagles and sea otters in the Aleutian Archipelago: indirect effects of trophic cascades.

    PubMed

    Anthony, Robert G; Estes, James A; Ricca, Mark A; Miles, A Keith; Forsman, Eric D

    2008-10-01

    Because sea otters (Enhydra lutris) exert a wide array of direct and indirect effects on coastal marine ecosystems throughout their geographic range, we investigated the potential influence of sea otters on the ecology of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA. We studied the diets, productivity, and density of breeding Bald Eagles on four islands during 1993-1994 and 2000-2002, when sea otters were abundant and scarce, respectively. Bald Eagles depend on nearshore marine communities for most of their prey in this ecosystem, so we predicted that the recent decline in otter populations would have an indirect negative effect on diets and demography of Bald Eagles. Contrary to our predictions, we found no effects on density of breeding pairs on four islands from 1993-1994 to 2000-2002. In contrast, diets and diet diversity of Bald Eagles changed considerably between the two time periods, likely reflecting a change in prey availability resulting from the increase and subsequent decline in sea otter populations. The frequency of sea otter pups, rock greenling (Hexagammus lagocephalus), and smooth lumpsuckers (Aptocyclus ventricosus) in the eagle's diet declined with corresponding increases in Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus), Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens), Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius), and various species of seabirds during the period of the recent otter population decline. Breeding success and productivity of Bald Eagles also increased during this time period, which may be due to the higher nutritional quality of avian prey consumed in later years. Our results provide further evidence of the wide-ranging indirect effects of sea otter predation on nearshore marine communities and another apex predator, the Bald Eagle. Although the indirect effects of sea otters are widely known, this example is unique because the food-web pathway transcended five species and several trophic levels in linking one apex predator

  18. Bald eagles and sea otters in the Aleutian Archipelago: indirect effects of trophic cascades.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Anthony, R.G.; Estes, J.A.; Ricca, M.A.; Miles, A.K.; Forsman, E.D.

    2008-01-01

    Because sea otters (Enhydra lutris) exert a wide array of direct and indirect effects on coastal marine ecosystems throughout their geographic range, we investigated the potential influence of sea otters on the ecology of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA. We studied the diets, productivity, and density of breeding Bald Eagles on four islands during 1993–1994 and 2000–2002, when sea otters were abundant and scarce, respectively. Bald Eagles depend on nearshore marine communities for most of their prey in this ecosystem, so we predicted that the recent decline in otter populations would have an indirect negative effect on diets and demography of Bald Eagles. Contrary to our predictions, we found no effects on density of breeding pairs on four islands from 1993–1994 to 2000–2002. In contrast, diets and diet diversity of Bald Eagles changed considerably between the two time periods, likely reflecting a change in prey availability resulting from the increase and subsequent decline in sea otter populations. The frequency of sea otter pups, rock greenling (Hexagammus lagocephalus), and smooth lumpsuckers (Aptocyclus ventricosus) in the eagle's diet declined with corresponding increases in Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus), Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens), Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius), and various species of seabirds during the period of the recent otter population decline. Breeding success and productivity of Bald Eagles also increased during this time period, which may be due to the higher nutritional quality of avian prey consumed in later years. Our results provide further evidence of the wide-ranging indirect effects of sea otter predation on nearshore marine communities and another apex predator, the Bald Eagle. Although the indirect effects of sea otters are widely known, this example is unique because the food-web pathway transcended five species and several trophic levels in linking one apex

  19. Mustelid herpesvirus-2, a novel herpes infection in northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni).

    PubMed

    Tseng, Marion; Fleetwood, Michelle; Reed, Aimee; Gill, Verena A; Harris, R Keith; Moeller, Robert B; Lipscomb, Thomas P; Mazet, Jonna A K; Goldstein, Tracey

    2012-01-01

    Oral ulcerations and plaques with epithelial eosinophilic intranuclear inclusions were observed in northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) that died or were admitted for rehabilitation after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) in Alaska, USA. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated the presence of herpesviral virions. Additionally, a serologic study from 2004 to 2005 found a high prevalence of exposure to a herpesvirus in live-captured otters. Tissues from 29 otters after the EVOS and nasal swabs from 83 live-captured otters in the Kodiak Archipelago were tested for herpesviral DNA. Analysis identified a novel herpesvirus in the gamma subfamily, most closely related to Mustelid herpesvirus-1 from badgers. Results indicated that this herpesvirus is associated with ulcerative lesions but is also commonly found in secretions of healthy northern sea otters.

  20. Indirect food web interactions: Sea otters and kelp forest fishes in the Aleutian archipelago

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reisewitz, S.E.; Estes, J.A.; Simenstad, C.A.

    2006-01-01

    Although trophic cascades - the effect of apex predators on progressively lower trophic level species through top-down forcing - have been demonstrated in diverse ecosystems, the broader potential influences of trophic cascades on other species and ecosystem processes are not well studied. We used the overexploitation, recovery and subsequent collapse of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations in the Aleutian archipelago to explore if and how the abundance and diet of kelp forest fishes are influenced by a trophic cascade linking sea otters with sea urchins and fleshy macroalgae. We measured the abundance of sea urchins (biomass density), kelp (numerical density) and fish (Catch per unit effort) at four islands in the mid-1980s (when otters were abundant at two of the islands and rare at the two others) and in 2000 (after otters had become rare at all four islands). Our fish studies focused on rock greenling (Hexagrammos lagocephalus), the numerically dominant species in this region. In the mid-1980s, the two islands with high-density otter populations supported dense kelp forests, relatively few urchins, and abundant rock greenling whereas the opposite pattern (abundant urchins, sparse kelp forests, and relatively few rock greenling) occurred at islands where otters were rare. In the 2000, the abundances of urchins, kelp and greenling were grossly unchanged at islands where otters were initially rare but had shifted to the characteristic pattern of otter-free systems at islands where otters were initially abundant. Significant changes in greenling diet occurred between the mid-1980s and the 2000 although the reasons for these changes were difficult to assess because of strong island-specific effects. Whereas urchin-dominated communities supported more diverse fish assemblages than kelp-dominated communities, this was not a simple effect of the otter-induced trophic cascade because all islands supported more diverse fish assemblages in 2000 than in the mid-1980s

  1. Indirect food web interactions: sea otters and kelp forest fishes in the Aleutian archipelago.

    PubMed

    Reisewitz, Shauna E; Estes, James A; Simenstad, Charles A

    2006-01-01

    Although trophic cascades-the effect of apex predators on progressively lower trophic level species through top-down forcing-have been demonstrated in diverse ecosystems, the broader potential influences of trophic cascades on other species and ecosystem processes are not well studied. We used the overexploitation, recovery and subsequent collapse of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations in the Aleutian archipelago to explore if and how the abundance and diet of kelp forest fishes are influenced by a trophic cascade linking sea otters with sea urchins and fleshy macroalgae. We measured the abundance of sea urchins (biomass density), kelp (numerical density) and fish (Catch per unit effort) at four islands in the mid-1980s (when otters were abundant at two of the islands and rare at the two others) and in 2000 (after otters had become rare at all four islands). Our fish studies focused on rock greenling (Hexagrammos lagocephalus), the numerically dominant species in this region. In the mid-1980s, the two islands with high-density otter populations supported dense kelp forests, relatively few urchins, and abundant rock greenling whereas the opposite pattern (abundant urchins, sparse kelp forests, and relatively few rock greenling) occurred at islands where otters were rare. In the 2000, the abundances of urchins, kelp and greenling were grossly unchanged at islands where otters were initially rare but had shifted to the characteristic pattern of otter-free systems at islands where otters were initially abundant. Significant changes in greenling diet occurred between the mid-1980s and the 2000 although the reasons for these changes were difficult to assess because of strong island-specific effects. Whereas urchin-dominated communities supported more diverse fish assemblages than kelp-dominated communities, this was not a simple effect of the otter-induced trophic cascade because all islands supported more diverse fish assemblages in 2000 than in the mid-1980s.

  2. An intersection model for estimating sea otter mortality along the Kenai Peninsula

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Udevitz, M.S.; Loughlin, T.R.

    1994-01-01

    We developed an intersection model to integrate parameters estimated from three distinct data sets that resulted from the Exxon Valdez oil spill: (1) the distribution, amount, and movements of spilled oil; (2) the distribution and abundance of sea otters along the Kenai Peninsula; and (3) the estimates of site-specific sea otter mortality relative to oil exposure from otters captured for rehabilitation and from collected carcasses. In this chapter, we describe the data sets and provide examples of how they can be used in the model to generate acute loss estimates. We also examine the assumptions required for the model and provide suggestions for improving and applying the model.

  3. Sea otter abundance in Kenai Fjords national Park: results from the 2010 aerial survey

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Coletti, Heather A.; Bodkin, James L.; Esslinger, George

    2011-01-01

    Fjord, Nuka Bay and Nuka Island. All observed otters were in the high density stratum, defined as the 0 m to 40 m depth contour and minimum distances from shore, while no sea otters were observed in the low density stratum, which is defined as the area within the 40m to 100 m depth contour. We recommend that prior to the next aerial sea otter survey in KEFJ (scheduled for 2013), a power simulation be conducted to evaluate methods to improve precision of estimates and the ability to detect change.

  4. The dental pathology of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Winer, J N; Liong, S M; Verstraete, F J M

    2013-01-01

    Skulls (n = 1,205) of southern sea otters were examined macroscopically according to defined criteria. The museum specimens, acquired from strandings, varied in age from juvenile to adult, with an equal sex distribution. The results from all young adult and adult specimens were pooled according to tooth type. Ninety-two percent of teeth were available for examination, with 6.5% artifactually absent, 0.6% deemed absent due to acquired tooth loss and 0.03% deemed congenitally absent. All teeth were normal in morphology, except for three pairs of fused teeth, including two instances of fused maxillary first incisor teeth. Supernumerary teeth were associated with 97 normal teeth (most commonly maxillary canine teeth) in 68 specimens. At least one persistent deciduous tooth was present in six skulls, two of which were from adults. The majority (94.6%) of alveoli, either with or without teeth, were not associated with bony changes consistent with periodontitis; however, the majority (74.4%) of specimens did have at least one tooth associated with mild periodontitis. The mesial root of the mandibular third premolar tooth was the most common location at which periodontal hard tissue lesions were observed (56.6%). Ten sea otters had lesions consistent with focal enamel hypoplasia. Approximately half of the teeth (52.0%) were abraded; almost all adult specimens (98.1%) contained at least one abraded tooth, while fewer young adults were affected (76.4%). Tooth fractures were uncommon, affecting 1,343 teeth (4.5%). Periapical lesions were associated with 409 teeth (1.3%) in a total of 176 specimens, and these would likely have caused considerable morbidity while the animals were alive.

  5. PCB exposure in sea otters and harlequin ducks in relation to history of contamination by the Exxon Valdez oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ricca, Mark A.; Miles, A. Keith; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Bodkin, James L.; Esler, Daniel; Trust, Kimberly A.

    2010-01-01

    Exposure to contaminants other than petroleum hydrocarbons could confound interpretation of Exxon Valdez oil spill effects on biota at Prince William Sound, Alaska. Hence, we investigated polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in blood of sea otters and harlequin ducks sampled during 1998. PCB concentrations characterized by lower chlorinated congeners were highest in sea otters from the unoiled area, whereas concentrations were similar among harlequin ducks from the oiled and unoiled area. Blood enzymes often elevated by xenobiotics were not related to PCB concentrations in sea otters. Only sea otters from the unoiled area had estimated risk from PCBs, and PCB composition or concentrations did not correspond to reported lower measures of population performance in sea otters or harlequin ducks from the oiled area. PCBs probably did not influence limited sea otter or harlequin duck recovery in the oiled area a decade after the spill.

  6. PCB exposure in sea otters and harlequin ducks in relation to history of contamination by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    PubMed

    Ricca, Mark A; Keith Miles, A; Ballachey, Brenda E; Bodkin, James L; Esler, Daniel; Trust, Kimberly A

    2010-06-01

    Exposure to contaminants other than petroleum hydrocarbons could confound interpretation of Exxon Valdez oil spill effects on biota at Prince William Sound, Alaska. Hence, we investigated polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in blood of sea otters and harlequin ducks sampled during 1998. PCB concentrations characterized by lower chlorinated congeners were highest in sea otters from the unoiled area, whereas concentrations were similar among harlequin ducks from the oiled and unoiled area. Blood enzymes often elevated by xenobiotics were not related to PCB concentrations in sea otters. Only sea otters from the unoiled area had estimated risk from PCBs, and PCB composition or concentrations did not correspond to reported lower measures of population performance in sea otters or harlequin ducks from the oiled area. PCBs probably did not influence limited sea otter or harlequin duck recovery in the oiled area a decade after the spill.

  7. Sea Otters Homogenize Mussel Beds and Reduce Habitat Provisioning in a Rocky Intertidal Ecosystem

    PubMed Central

    Singh, Gerald G.; Markel, Russell W.; Martone, Rebecca G.; Salomon, Anne K.; Harley, Christopher D. G.; Chan, Kai M. A.

    2013-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are keystone predators that consume a variety of benthic invertebrates, including the intertidal mussel, Mytilus californianus. By virtue of their competitive dominance, large size, and longevity, M. californianus are ecosystem engineers that form structurally complex beds that provide habitat for diverse invertebrate communities. We investigated whether otters affect mussel bed characteristics (i.e. mussel length distributions, mussel bed depth, and biomass) and associated community structure (i.e. biomass, alpha and beta diversity) by comparing four regions that varied in their histories of sea otter occupancy on the west coast of British Columbia and northern Washington. Mussel bed depth and average mussel lengths were 1.5 times lower in regions occupied by otters for >20 years than those occupied for <5 yrs. Diversity of mussel bed associated communities did not differ between regions; however, the total biomass of species associated with mussel beds was more than three-times higher where sea otters were absent. We examined alternative explanations for differences in mussel bed community structure, including among-region variation in oceanographic conditions and abundance of the predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus. We cannot discount multiple drivers shaping mussel beds, but our findings indicate the sea otters are an important one. We conclude that, similar to their effects on subtidal benthic invertebrates, sea otters reduce the size distributions of intertidal mussels and, thereby, habitat available to support associated communities. Our study indicates that by reducing populations of habitat-providing intertidal mussels, sea otters may have substantial indirect effects on associated communities. PMID:23717697

  8. Sea otters homogenize mussel beds and reduce habitat provisioning in a rocky intertidal ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Singh, Gerald G; Markel, Russell W; Martone, Rebecca G; Salomon, Anne K; Harley, Christopher D G; Chan, Kai M A

    2013-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are keystone predators that consume a variety of benthic invertebrates, including the intertidal mussel, Mytilus californianus. By virtue of their competitive dominance, large size, and longevity, M. californianus are ecosystem engineers that form structurally complex beds that provide habitat for diverse invertebrate communities. We investigated whether otters affect mussel bed characteristics (i.e. mussel length distributions, mussel bed depth, and biomass) and associated community structure (i.e. biomass, alpha and beta diversity) by comparing four regions that varied in their histories of sea otter occupancy on the west coast of British Columbia and northern Washington. Mussel bed depth and average mussel lengths were 1.5 times lower in regions occupied by otters for >20 years than those occupied for <5 yrs. Diversity of mussel bed associated communities did not differ between regions; however, the total biomass of species associated with mussel beds was more than three-times higher where sea otters were absent. We examined alternative explanations for differences in mussel bed community structure, including among-region variation in oceanographic conditions and abundance of the predatory sea star Pisaster ochraceus. We cannot discount multiple drivers shaping mussel beds, but our findings indicate the sea otters are an important one. We conclude that, similar to their effects on subtidal benthic invertebrates, sea otters reduce the size distributions of intertidal mussels and, thereby, habitat available to support associated communities. Our study indicates that by reducing populations of habitat-providing intertidal mussels, sea otters may have substantial indirect effects on associated communities.

  9. Sea otter population status and the process of recovery from the 1989 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Ballachey, B.E.; Dean, T.A.; Fukuyama, A.K.; Jewett, S.C.; McDonald, L.; Monson, D.H.; O'Clair, Charles E.; VanBlaricom, G.R.

    2002-01-01

    Sea otter Enhydra lutris populations were severely affected by the 1989 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill in western Prince William Sound, AK, and had not fully recovered by 2000. Here we present results of population surveys and incorporate findings from related studies to identify current population status and factors affecting recovery. Between 1993 and 2000, the number of sea otters in the spill-area of Prince William Sound increased by about 600 to nearly 2700. However, at Knight Island, where oil exposure and sea otter mortality in 1989 was most severe, no increase has been observed. Sea otter reproduction was not impaired, and the age and sex composition of captured otters are consistent with both intrinsic reproduction and immigration contributing to recovery. However, low resighting rates of marked otters at Knight Island compared to an unoiled reference area, and high proportions of young otters in beach cast carcasses through 1998, suggest that the lack of recovery was caused by relatively poor survival or emigration of potential recruits. Significantly higher levels of cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A), a biomarker of hydrocarbons, were found in sea otters at Knight Island from 1996 to 1998 compared to unoiled Montague Island, implicating oil effects in the lack of recovery at Knight Island. Delayed recovery does not appear to be directly related to food limitation. Although food availability was relatively low at both oiled and unoiled areas, we detected significant increases in sea otter abundance only at Montague Island, a finding inconsistent with food as a principal limiting factor. Persistent oil in habitats and prey provides a source of continued oil exposure and, combined with relatively low prey densities, suggests a potential interaction between oil and food. However, sea otters foraged more successfully at Knight Island and young females were in better condition than those at Montague Island. We conclude that progress toward recovery of sea otters in Prince

  10. Sea otter studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve: annual report 2002

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Kloecker, Kimberly A.; Esslinger, George G.; Monson, Daniel H.; Coletti, Heather A.; Doherty, Janet

    2003-01-01

    Since 1995, the number of sea otters in Glacier Bay proper has increased from around 5 to more than 1200. Sea otter distribution is mostly limited to the Lower Bay, south of Sandy Cove, and is not continuous within that area. Concentrations occur in the vicinity of Sita Reef and Boulder Island and between Pt. Carolus and Rush Pt. on the west side of the Bay, although there have been occasional sightings north of Sandy Cove (Figure 1). Large portions of the Bay remain unoccupied by sea otters, but recolonization is occurring rapidly. Most prey recovered by sea otters in Glacier Bay are ecologically, commercially, or socially important species. In 2002 sea otter diet consisted of 35% clam, 26% mussel, 3% crab, 3.0% snail, 2% starfish, 11% urchins, 2% other, and 20% unidentified. Dominant clam species include the butter clam, Saxidomus gigantea, the Greenland cockle, Serripes groenlandicus, and the littleneck clam, Protothaca staminea. Urchins are primarily green urchins, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, and the mussel is Modiolus modiolus. Crabs observed in 2002 include the Dungeness, Cancer magister, the kelp crab Pugettia gracilis, and the helmet crab, Telmessus cherigonus. Although we characterize diet at broad geographic scales, we have previously found diet to vary between sites separated by as little as several hundred meters. Dietary variation among and within sites can reflect differences in prey availability as well as individual specialization. We estimated species composition, density, biomass, and sizes of subtidal clams, urchins, and mussels at 13 sites in Glacier Bay and 5 sites in nearby Port Althorp, where sea otters have been present for at least 20 years. All sites were selected based on the presence of abundant clam siphons and the absence of sea otters (Glacier Bay) or abundant shell litter and the presence of sea otters (Port Althorp). Glacier Bay sites were selected to achieve a broad geographic sample of dense subtidal clam beds within

  11. Innervation patterns of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) mystacial follicle-sinus complexes

    PubMed Central

    Marshall, Christopher D.; Rozas, Kelly; Kot, Brian; Gill, Verena A.

    2014-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are the most recent group of mammals to return to the sea, and may exemplify divergent somatosensory tactile systems among mammals. Therefore, we quantified the mystacial vibrissal array of sea otters and histologically processed follicle-sinus complexes (F - SCs) to test the hypotheses that the number of myelinated axons per F - SC is greater than that found for terrestrial mammalian vibrissae and that their organization and microstructure converge with those of pinniped vibrissae. A mean of 120.5 vibrissae were arranged rostrally on a broad, blunt muzzle in 7–8 rows and 9–13 columns. The F-SCs of sea otters are tripartite in their organization and similar in microstructure to pinnipeds rather than terrestrial species. Each F-SC was innervated by a mean 1339 ± 408.3 axons. Innervation to the entire mystacial vibrissal array was estimated at 161,313 axons. Our data support the hypothesis that the disproportionate expansion of the coronal gyrus in somatosensory cortex of sea otters is related to the high innervation investment of the mystacial vibrissal array, and that quantifying innervation investment is a good proxy for tactile sensitivity. We predict that the tactile performance of sea otter mystacial vibrissae is comparable to that of harbor seals, sea lions and walruses. PMID:25400554

  12. Hearing in the sea otter (Enhydra lutris): auditory profiles for an amphibious marine carnivore.

    PubMed

    Ghoul, Asila; Reichmuth, Colleen

    2014-11-01

    In this study we examine the auditory capabilities of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris), an amphibious marine mammal that remains virtually unstudied with respect to its sensory biology. We trained an adult male sea otter to perform a psychophysical task in an acoustic chamber and at an underwater apparatus. Aerial and underwater audiograms were constructed from detection thresholds for narrowband signals measured in quiet conditions at frequencies from 0.125-40 kHz. Aerial hearing thresholds were also measured in the presence of octave-band masking noise centered at eight signal frequencies (0.25-22.6 kHz) so that critical ratios could be determined. The aerial audiogram of the sea otter resembled that of sea lions and showed a reduction in low-frequency sensitivity relative to terrestrial mustelids. Best sensitivity was -1 dB re 20 µPa at 8 kHz. Under water, hearing sensitivity was significantly reduced when compared to sea lions and other pinniped species, demonstrating that sea otter hearing is primarily adapted to receive airborne sounds. Critical ratios were more than 10 dB higher than those measured for pinnipeds, suggesting that sea otters are less efficient than other marine carnivores at extracting acoustic signals from background noise, especially at frequencies below 2 kHz.

  13. Modified-closed castration: a novel technique for sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) orchiectomies.

    PubMed

    McDermott, Alexa J; Clauss, Tonya; Sakals, Sherisse; Mejia, Johanna; Radlinsky, MaryAnn G

    2013-09-01

    A novel surgical technique was used in the routine castrations of two intact male southern sea otters, Enhydra lutris nereis, housed at the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, Georgia, USA). This technique involved incising the parietal vaginal tunic to allow placement of double ligation of the ductus deferens, testicular artery, and pampiniform plexus en masse. After ligating and transecting these structures, they were introduced back into the tunic, which was closed with a circumferential ligature. The incision site was closed in a routine manner. Both otters recovered well from the procedure. One otter had mild cutaneous dehiscence postoperatively, and the other had no obvious complications. Benefits of this procedure include reduced risk of ligature slippage or loosening and resultant hemorrhage, as provided by the traditional open portion of the castration, and decreased postoperative swelling, as provided by the closed part of the castration. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first time this technique has been described for use in sea otters.

  14. Characterization of the Temporomandibular Joint of Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Lieske, Danielle; Vapniarsky, Natalia; Verstraete, Frank J M; Leale, Dustin M; Young, Colleen; Arzi, Boaz

    2015-01-01

    The structure-function relationship of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of southern sea otter has largely not been described. This study aims to describe the histological, biochemical, and biomechanical features of the TMJ disk in the southern sea otter. The TMJ disks from fresh cadaver heads of southern sea otter adult males (n = 8) and females (n = 8) acquired from strandings were examined. Following macroscopical evaluation, the TMJs were investigated for their histological, mechanical, and biochemical properties. We found that the sea otter TMJ disks are, in general, similar to other carnivores. Macroscopically, the TMJ disk was highly congruent, and the mandibular head was encased tightly by the mandibular fossa with a thin disk separating the joint into two compartments. Histologically, the articular surfaces were lined with dense fibrous connective tissue that gradually transitioned into one to two cell thick layer of hyaline-like cartilage. The disk fibers were aligned primarily in the rostrocaudal direction and had occasional lacuna with chondrocyte-like cells. The disk was composed primarily of collagen type 1. Biochemical analysis indicates sulfated glycosaminoglycan content lower than other mammals, but significantly higher in male sea otters than female sea otters. Finally, mechanical analysis demonstrated a disk that was not only stronger and stiffer in the rostrocaudal direction than the mediolateral direction but also significantly stronger and stiffer in females than males. We conclude that the congruent design of the TMJ, thin disk, biochemical content, and mechanical properties all reflect a structure-function relationship within the TMJ disk that is likely designed for the sea otter's hard diet and continuous food intake.

  15. Changes in sea urchins and kelp following a reduction in sea otter density as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dean, T.A.; Bodkin, J.L.; Jewett, S.C.; Monson, D.H.; Jung, D.

    2000-01-01

    Interactions between sea otters Enhydra lutris, sea urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, and kelp were investigated following the reduction in sea otter density in Prince William Sound, Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. At northern Knight Island, a heavily oiled portion of the sound, sea otter abundance was reduced by a minimum of 50% by the oil spill, and from 1995 through 1998 remained at an estimated 66% lower than in 1973. Where sea otter densities were reduced, there were proportionally more large sea urchins. However, except in some widely scattered aggregations, both density and biomass of sea urchins were similar in an area of reduced sea otter density compared with an area where sea otters remained about 10 times more abundant. Furthermore, there was no change in kelp abundance in the area of reduced sea otter density. This is in contrast to greatly increased biomass of sea urchins and greatly reduced kelp density observed following an approximate 90% decline in sea otter abundance in the western Aleutian Islands. The variation in community response to a reduction in sea otters may be related to the magnitude of the reduction and the non-linear response by sea urchins to changes in predator abundance. The number of surviving sea otters may have been high enough to suppress sea urchin populations in Prince William Sound, but not in the Aleutians. Alternatively, differences in response may have been due to differences in the frequency or magnitude of sea urchin recruitment. Densities of small sea urchins were much higher in the Aleutian system even prior to the reduction in sea otters, suggesting a higher rate of recruitment.

  16. Endemic Infection of Stranded Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) with Novel Parvovirus, Polyomavirus, and Adenovirus.

    PubMed

    Siqueira, Juliana D; Ng, Terry; Miller, Melissa; Li, Linlin; Deng, Xutao; Dodd, Erin; Batac, Francesca; Delwart, Eric

    2017-02-13

    Over the past century, the southern sea otter (SSO; Enhydra lutris nereis) population has been slowly recovering from near extinction due to overharvest. The SSO is a threatened species under federal law and a fully protected species under California law. Through a multiagency collaborative program, stranded animals are rehabilitated and released, while deceased animals are necropsied and tissues are cryopreserved to facilitate scientific study. Here, we processed archival tissues to enrich particle-associated viral nucleic acids, which we randomly amplified and deeply sequenced to identify viral genomes through sequence similarities. Anelloviruses and endogenous retroviral sequences made up over 50% of observed viral sequences. Polyomavirus, parvovirus, and adenovirus sequences made up most of the remaining reads. We characterized and phylogenetically analyzed the full genome of sea otter (SO) polyomavirus 1 and the complete coding sequence of SO parvovirus 1 and found that the closest known viruses infect primates and domestic pigs ( Sus scrofa domesticus), respectively. We tested archived tissues from 69 stranded SO necropsied over 14 yr (2000-13) by PCR. Polyomavirus, parvovirus, and adenovirus infections were detected in 51, 61, and 29% of examined animals, respectively, with no significant increase in frequency over time, suggesting endemic infection. We found that 80% of tested SSO were infected with at least one of the three DNA viruses, whose tissue distribution we determined in 261 tissue samples. Parvovirus DNA was most frequently detected in mesenteric lymph node, polyomavirus DNA in spleen, and adenovirus DNA in multiple tissues (spleen, retropharyngeal and mesenteric lymph node, lung, and liver). This study describes the virome in tissues of a threatened species and shows that stranded SSO are frequently infected with multiple viruses, warranting future research to investigate associations between these infections and observed lesions.

  17. Potential for sea otter exposure to remnants of buried oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    PubMed

    Boehm, Paul D; Page, David S; Neff, Jerry M; Johnson, Charles B

    2007-10-01

    A study was conducted in 2005 and 2006 to examine the hypothesis that sea otters (Enhydra lutris) continue to be exposed to residues of subsurface oil (SSO) while foraging on shorelines in the northern Knight Island (NKI) area of Prince William Sound, Alaska more than 17 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Forty-three shoreline segments, whose oiling history has been documented by prior surveys, were surveyed. These included all shoreline segments reported by a 2003 NOAA random site survey to contain SSO residues in NKI. Sites were surveyed for the presence and location of otter foraging pits. Only one of 29 SSO sites surveyed was identified as an otter foraging site. Most buried SSO residues are confined to tide elevations above +0.8 m above mean lower low water (MLLW), above the range of intertidal clam habitat. More than 99% of documented intertidal otter pits at all sites surveyed are in the lower intertidal zone (-0.2 to +0.8 m above MLLW), the zone of highest clam abundance. The spatial separation of the otter pits from the locations of SSO residues, both with regard to tidal elevation and lateral separation on the study sites, coupled with the lack of evidence of intertidal otter foraging at SSO sites indicates a low likelihood of exposure of foraging otters to SSO on the shores of the NKI area.

  18. Population demographics, survival, and reporduction: Alaska sea otter research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Monson, D.H.; Bodkin, James L.; Doak, D.F.; Estes, J.A.; Tinker, M.T.; Siniff, D.B.; Maldini, Daniela; Calkins, Donald; Atkinson, Shannon; Meehan, Rosa

    2004-01-01

    The fundamental force behind population change is the balance between age-specific survival and reproductive rates. Thus, understanding population demographics is crucial when trying to interpret trends in population change over time. For many species, demographic rates change as the population’s status (i.e., relative to prey resources) varies. Indices of body condition indicative of individual energy reserves can be a useful gauge of population status. Integrated studies designed to measure (1) population trends; (2) current population status; and (3) demographic rates will provide the most complete picture of the factors driving observed population changes. In particular, estimates of age specific survival and reproduction in conjunction with measures of population change can be integrated into population matrix models useful in explaining observed trends. We focus here on the methods used to measure demographic rates in sea otters, and note the importance of comparable methods between studies. Next, we review the current knowledge of the influence of population status on demographic parameters. We end with examples of the power of matrix modeling as a tool to integrate various types of demographic information for detecting otherwise hard to detect changes in demographic parameters.

  19. Sea otters, kelp forests, and the extinction of Steller's sea cow.

    PubMed

    Estes, James A; Burdin, Alexander; Doak, Daniel F

    2016-01-26

    The late Pleistocene extinction of so many large-bodied vertebrates has been variously attributed to two general causes: rapid climate change and the effects of humans as they spread from the Old World to previously uninhabited continents and islands. Many large-bodied vertebrates, especially large apex predators, maintain their associated ecosystems through top-down forcing processes, especially trophic cascades, and megaherbivores also exert an array of strong indirect effects on their communities. Thus, a third possibility for at least some of the Pleistocene extinctions is that they occurred through habitat changes resulting from the loss of these other keystone species. Here we explore the plausibility of this mechanism, using information on sea otters, kelp forests, and the recent extinction of Steller's sea cows from the Commander Islands. Large numbers of sea cows occurred in the Commander Islands at the time of their discovery by Europeans in 1741. Although extinction of these last remaining sea cows during early years of the Pacific maritime fur trade is widely thought to be a consequence of direct human overkill, we show that it is also a probable consequence of the loss of sea otters and the co-occurring loss of kelp, even if not a single sea cow had been killed directly by humans. This example supports the hypothesis that the directly caused extinctions of a few large vertebrates in the late Pleistocene may have resulted in the coextinction of numerous other species.

  20. Sea otters, kelp forests, and the extinction of Steller’s sea cow

    PubMed Central

    Estes, James A.; Burdin, Alexander; Doak, Daniel F.

    2016-01-01

    The late Pleistocene extinction of so many large-bodied vertebrates has been variously attributed to two general causes: rapid climate change and the effects of humans as they spread from the Old World to previously uninhabited continents and islands. Many large-bodied vertebrates, especially large apex predators, maintain their associated ecosystems through top-down forcing processes, especially trophic cascades, and megaherbivores also exert an array of strong indirect effects on their communities. Thus, a third possibility for at least some of the Pleistocene extinctions is that they occurred through habitat changes resulting from the loss of these other keystone species. Here we explore the plausibility of this mechanism, using information on sea otters, kelp forests, and the recent extinction of Steller's sea cows from the Commander Islands. Large numbers of sea cows occurred in the Commander Islands at the time of their discovery by Europeans in 1741. Although extinction of these last remaining sea cows during early years of the Pacific maritime fur trade is widely thought to be a consequence of direct human overkill, we show that it is also a probable consequence of the loss of sea otters and the co-occurring loss of kelp, even if not a single sea cow had been killed directly by humans. This example supports the hypothesis that the directly caused extinctions of a few large vertebrates in the late Pleistocene may have resulted in the coextinction of numerous other species. PMID:26504217

  1. Correlates to survival of juvenile sea otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1992-1993

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ballachey, B.E.; Bodkin, J.L.; Howlin, S.; Doroff, A.M.; Rebar, A.H.

    2003-01-01

    We estimated survival of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) for 1 year post weaning during 1992-1993 in Prince William Sound (PWS), location of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. We sampled 38 pups in eastern PWS (EPWS), an unoiled area occupied by sea otters for 25 years. We compared survival between areas, sexes, and condition groups. We also examined the relation of blood parameters to survival. Survival was estimated at 0.74 in EPWS and 0.52 in WPWS. Female survival was 0.86 in EPWS and 0.64 in WPWS, whereas male survival was lower, 0.61 in EPWS and 0.44 in WPWS. Sea otters from EPWS were in better condition (mass/length) than WPWS sea otters. Pups in better condition had higher survival in EPWS but not in WPWS. Foraging success was greater in EPWS than in WPWS, consistent with either an effect of length of occupation or the effects of oil on the prey base or a combination of these effects. Area differences in blood parameters suggested liver damage in WPWS sea otters, perhaps resulting from continued exposure to oil. Thus, both length of occupation and oiling history likely influenced juvenile survival in PWS.

  2. Monitoring population status of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska: options and considerations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Esslinger, George; Esler, Daniel N.; Howlin, S.; Starcevich, L.A.

    2015-06-25

    After many decades of absence from southeast Alaska, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are recolonizing parts of their former range, including Glacier Bay, Alaska. Sea otters are well known for structuring nearshore ecosystems and causing community-level changes such as increases in kelp abundance and changes in the size and number of other consumers. Monitoring population status of sea otters in Glacier Bay will help park researchers and managers understand and interpret sea otter-induced ecosystem changes relative to other sources of variation, including potential human-induced impacts such as ocean acidification, vessel disturbance, and oil spills. This report was prepared for the National Park Service (NPS), Southeast Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network following a request for evaluation of options for monitoring sea otter population status in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. To meet this request, we provide a detailed consideration of the primary method of assessment of abundance and distribution, aerial surveys, including analyses of power to detect interannual trends and designs to reduce variation around annual abundance estimates. We also describe two alternate techniques for evaluating sea otter population status—(1) quantifying sea otter diets and energy intake rates, and (2) detecting change in ages at death. In addition, we provide a brief section on directed research to identify studies that would further our understanding of sea otter population dynamics and effects on the Glacier Bay ecosystem, and provide context for interpreting results of monitoring activities.

  3. Characterization of the Temporomandibular Joint of Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    PubMed Central

    Lieske, Danielle; Vapniarsky, Natalia; Verstraete, Frank J. M.; Leale, Dustin M.; Young, Colleen; Arzi, Boaz

    2015-01-01

    The structure–function relationship of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of southern sea otter has largely not been described. This study aims to describe the histological, biochemical, and biomechanical features of the TMJ disk in the southern sea otter. The TMJ disks from fresh cadaver heads of southern sea otter adult males (n = 8) and females (n = 8) acquired from strandings were examined. Following macroscopical evaluation, the TMJs were investigated for their histological, mechanical, and biochemical properties. We found that the sea otter TMJ disks are, in general, similar to other carnivores. Macroscopically, the TMJ disk was highly congruent, and the mandibular head was encased tightly by the mandibular fossa with a thin disk separating the joint into two compartments. Histologically, the articular surfaces were lined with dense fibrous connective tissue that gradually transitioned into one to two cell thick layer of hyaline-like cartilage. The disk fibers were aligned primarily in the rostrocaudal direction and had occasional lacuna with chondrocyte-like cells. The disk was composed primarily of collagen type 1. Biochemical analysis indicates sulfated glycosaminoglycan content lower than other mammals, but significantly higher in male sea otters than female sea otters. Finally, mechanical analysis demonstrated a disk that was not only stronger and stiffer in the rostrocaudal direction than the mediolateral direction but also significantly stronger and stiffer in females than males. We conclude that the congruent design of the TMJ, thin disk, biochemical content, and mechanical properties all reflect a structure–function relationship within the TMJ disk that is likely designed for the sea otter’s hard diet and continuous food intake. PMID:26664997

  4. Status of sea otter populations in southcentral and southeast Alaska, 2002-2003

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Maldini, Daniela; Calkins, Donald; Atkinson, Shannon; Meehan, Rosa

    2004-01-01

    During the years 2002-2004 estimated sea otter population sizes were calculated for Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, and the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet regions of Alaska. Aerial surveys were conducted by a single observer from a float-equipped Bellanca Scout fixed-wing aircraft flying at 91 m altitude and 65 mph. The surveys followed protocols written by Bodkin and Udevitz (1999). The survey design consisted of systematic sampling of 400 m wide transects that were uniformly placed throughout the survey area. Selection and sampling of transects was proportional to expected sea otter abundance, with most effort taking place in transects over waters 0-40 m in depth. Intensive searches were periodically conducted within transects to estimate the proportion of sea otters not detected on strips. To obtain an adjusted population size estimate, strip counts are adjusted for the area not surveyed and by a correction factor.

  5. Sarcocysts of an unidentified species of Sarcocystis in the sea otter (Enhydra lutris)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dubey, J.P.; Lindsay, D.S.; Rosenthal, B.M.; Thomas, N.J.

    2003-01-01

    The number of Sarcocystis species that infect sea otters (Enhydra lutris) is unknown. Sea otter tissues were recently shown to harbor sarcocysts of S. neurona and of unidentified species of Sarcocystis. Whereas sarcocysts of S. neurona have walls 1a??3 I?m thick with type 9 villar protrusions, ultrastructure of a distinct thin-walled sarcocyst (0.5a??0.7 I?m thick) lacking villar protrusions, but instead exhibiting minute type 1 undulations on the sarcocyst wall, is described in this report. Parasites characterized from a sea otter infection were inferred to be related to, but distinct from, other species belonging to Sarcocystis, based on sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of a portion of the beta subunit of the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase gene.

  6. Chemical anesthesia of Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris): Results of past field studies

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Monson, D.H.; McCormick, C.; Ballachey, B.E.

    2001-01-01

    Between 1987 and 1997, we chemically immobilized 597 wild sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in Alaska for the collection of biological samples or for surgical instrumentation. One drug-related sea otter fatality occurred during this time. Fentanyl in combination with diazepam produced consistent, smooth inductions with minimal need for supplemental anesthetics during procedures lasting 30-40 min. Antagonism with naltrexone or naloxone was rapid and complete, although we observed narcotic recycling in sea otters treated with naloxone. For surgical procedures, we recommend a fentanyl target dose of 0.33 mg/kg of body mass and diazepam at 0.11 mg/kg. For nonsurgical biological sample collection procedures, we recommend fentanyl at 0.22 mg/kg and diazepam at 0.07 mg/kg. We advise the use of the opioid antagonist naltrexone at a ratio of 2:1 to the total fentanyl administered during processing.

  7. Dual congenital transmission of Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona in a late-term aborted pup from a chronically infected southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Shapiro, Karen; Miller, Melissa A; Packham, Andrea E; Aguilar, Beatriz; Conrad, Patricia A; Vanwormer, Elizabeth; Murray, Michael J

    2016-03-01

    Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona are protozoan parasites with terrestrial definitive hosts, and both pathogens can cause fatal disease in a wide range of marine animals. Close monitoring of threatened southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) in California allowed for the diagnosis of dual transplacental transmission of T. gondii and S. neurona in a wild female otter that was chronically infected with both parasites. Congenital infection resulted in late-term abortion due to disseminated toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasma gondii and S. neurona DNA was amplified from placental tissue culture, as well as from fetal lung tissue. Molecular characterization of T. gondii revealed a Type X genotype in isolates derived from placenta and fetal brain, as well as in all tested fetal organs (brain, lung, spleen, liver and thymus). This report provides the first evidence for transplacental transmission of T. gondii in a chronically infected wild sea otter, and the first molecular and immunohistochemical confirmation of concurrent transplacental transmission of T. gondii and S. neurona in any species. Repeated fetal and/or neonatal losses in the sea otter dam also suggested that T. gondii has the potential to reduce fecundity in chronically infected marine mammals through parasite recrudescence and repeated fetal infection.

  8. Indirect effects of sea otters on rockfish (Sebastes spp.) in giant kelp forests.

    PubMed

    Markel, Russell W; Shurin, Jonathan B

    2015-11-01

    Sea otters are a classic example of a predator controlling ecosystem productivity through cascading effects on basal, habitat-forming kelp species. However, their indirect effects on other kelp-associated taxa like fishes are poorly understood. We examined the effects of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) reintroduction along the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada on giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) distributions and the trophic niches and growth of two common kelp forest fishes, black (Sebastes melanops) and copper (S. caurinus) rockfishes. We sampled 47 kelp forests, and found that red sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) were eliminated in the presence of otters, and that kelp forests were 3.7 times deeper and 18.8 times larger. Despite order-of-magnitude differences in kelp forest size, adult black and copper rockfishes contained less kelp-derived carbon in their tissues (as measured by stable isotopes of C and N) in regions with otters. Adults of both species had higher mean trophic positions in the presence of otters, indicating more frequent consumption of higher trophic level prey such as fishes. Smaller trophic niche space of rockfishes in the presence of otters indicated a higher degree of trophic specialization. Juvenile black rockfishes rapidly shifted to higher kelp-carbon contents, trophic positions, and body condition factors after settling in kelp forests. The relationships of growth to length, percentage of kelp carbon, and trophic position varied between the two regions, indicating that potential effects of kelp forest size on trophic ontogeny may also affect individual performance. Our results provide evidence that the indirect effects of otters on rockfishes arise largely through the creation of habitat for fishes and other prey rather than a direct trophic connection through invertebrates or other consumers of kelp productivity.

  9. Energetic demands of immature sea otters from birth to weaning: implications for maternal costs, reproductive behavior and population-level trends

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Thometz, N.M.; Tinker, M.T.; Staedler, M.M.; Mayer, K.A.; Williams, T.M.

    2014-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have the highest mass-specific metabolic rate of any marine mammal, which is superimposed on the inherently high costs of reproduction and lactation in adult females. These combined energetic demands have been implicated in the poor body condition and increased mortality of female sea otters nearing the end of lactation along the central California coast. However, the cost of lactation is unknown and currently cannot be directly measured for this marine species in the wild. Here, we quantified the energetic demands of immature sea otters across five developmental stages as a means of assessing the underlying energetic challenges associated with pup rearing that may contribute to poor maternal condition. Activity-specific metabolic rates, daily activity budgets and field metabolic rates (FMR) were determined for each developmental stage. Mean FMR of pre-molt pups was 2.29±0.81 MJ day−1 and increased to 6.16±2.46 and 7.41±3.17 MJ day−1 in post-molt pups and dependent immature animals, respectively. Consequently, daily energy demands of adult females increase 17% by 3 weeks postpartum and continue increasing to 96% above pre-pregnancy levels by the average age of weaning. Our results suggest that the energetics of pup rearing superimposed on small body size, marine living and limited on-board energetic reserves conspire to make female sea otters exceptionally vulnerable to energetic shortfalls. By controlling individual fitness, maternal behavior and pup provisioning strategies, this underlying metabolic challenge appears to be a major factor influencing current population trends in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

  10. Energetic demands of immature sea otters from birth to weaning: implications for maternal costs, reproductive behavior and population-level trends.

    PubMed

    Thometz, N M; Tinker, M T; Staedler, M M; Mayer, K A; Williams, T M

    2014-06-15

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have the highest mass-specific metabolic rate of any marine mammal, which is superimposed on the inherently high costs of reproduction and lactation in adult females. These combined energetic demands have been implicated in the poor body condition and increased mortality of female sea otters nearing the end of lactation along the central California coast. However, the cost of lactation is unknown and currently cannot be directly measured for this marine species in the wild. Here, we quantified the energetic demands of immature sea otters across five developmental stages as a means of assessing the underlying energetic challenges associated with pup rearing that may contribute to poor maternal condition. Activity-specific metabolic rates, daily activity budgets and field metabolic rates (FMR) were determined for each developmental stage. Mean FMR of pre-molt pups was 2.29 ± 0.81 MJ day(-1) and increased to 6.16 ± 2.46 and 7.41 ± 3.17 MJ day(-1) in post-molt pups and dependent immature animals, respectively. Consequently, daily energy demands of adult females increase 17% by 3 weeks postpartum and continue increasing to 96% above pre-pregnancy levels by the average age of weaning. Our results suggest that the energetics of pup rearing superimposed on small body size, marine living and limited on-board energetic reserves conspire to make female sea otters exceptionally vulnerable to energetic shortfalls. By controlling individual fitness, maternal behavior and pup provisioning strategies, this underlying metabolic challenge appears to be a major factor influencing current population trends in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

  11. Evidence for a novel marine harmful algal bloom: Cyanotoxin (Microcystin) transfer from land to sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Miller, Melissa A.; Kudela, Raphael M.; Mekebri, Abdu; Crane, Dave; Oates, Stori C.; Tinker, M. Timothy; Staedler, Michelle; Miller, Woutrina A.; Toy-Choutka, Sharon; Dominik, Clare; Hardin, Dane; Langlois, Gregg; Murray, Michael; Ward, Kim; Jessup, David A.

    2010-01-01

    "Super-blooms" of cyanobacteria that produce potent and environmentally persistent biotoxins (microcystins) are an emerging global health issue in freshwater habitats. Monitoring of the marine environment for secondary impacts has been minimal, although microcystin-contaminated freshwater is known to be entering marine ecosystems. Here we confirm deaths of marine mammals from microcystin intoxication and provide evidence implicating land-sea flow with trophic transfer through marine invertebrates as the most likely route of exposure. This hypothesis was evaluated through environmental detection of potential freshwater and marine microcystin sources, sea otter necropsy with biochemical analysis of tissues and evaluation of bioaccumulation of freshwater microcystins by marine invertebrates. Ocean discharge of freshwater microcystins was confirmed for three nutrient-impaired rivers flowing into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and microcystin concentrations up to 2,900 ppm (2.9 million ppb) were detected in a freshwater lake and downstream tributaries to within 1 km of the ocean. Deaths of 21 southern sea otters, a federally listed threatened species, were linked to microcystin intoxication. Finally, farmed and free-living marine clams, mussels and oysters of species that are often consumed by sea otters and humans exhibited significant biomagnification (to 107 times ambient water levels) and slow depuration of freshwater cyanotoxins, suggesting a potentially serious environmental and public health threat that extends from the lowest trophic levels of nutrient-impaired freshwater habitat to apex marine predators. Microcystin-poisoned sea otters were commonly recovered near river mouths and harbors and contaminated marine bivalves were implicated as the most likely source of this potent hepatotoxin for wild otters. This is the first report of deaths of marine mammals due to cyanotoxins and confirms the existence of a novel class of marine "harmful algal

  12. Evidence for a novel marine harmful algal bloom: cyanotoxin (microcystin) transfer from land to sea otters.

    PubMed

    Miller, Melissa A; Kudela, Raphael M; Mekebri, Abdu; Crane, Dave; Oates, Stori C; Tinker, M Timothy; Staedler, Michelle; Miller, Woutrina A; Toy-Choutka, Sharon; Dominik, Clare; Hardin, Dane; Langlois, Gregg; Murray, Michael; Ward, Kim; Jessup, David A

    2010-09-10

    "Super-blooms" of cyanobacteria that produce potent and environmentally persistent biotoxins (microcystins) are an emerging global health issue in freshwater habitats. Monitoring of the marine environment for secondary impacts has been minimal, although microcystin-contaminated freshwater is known to be entering marine ecosystems. Here we confirm deaths of marine mammals from microcystin intoxication and provide evidence implicating land-sea flow with trophic transfer through marine invertebrates as the most likely route of exposure. This hypothesis was evaluated through environmental detection of potential freshwater and marine microcystin sources, sea otter necropsy with biochemical analysis of tissues and evaluation of bioaccumulation of freshwater microcystins by marine invertebrates. Ocean discharge of freshwater microcystins was confirmed for three nutrient-impaired rivers flowing into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and microcystin concentrations up to 2,900 ppm (2.9 million ppb) were detected in a freshwater lake and downstream tributaries to within 1 km of the ocean. Deaths of 21 southern sea otters, a federally listed threatened species, were linked to microcystin intoxication. Finally, farmed and free-living marine clams, mussels and oysters of species that are often consumed by sea otters and humans exhibited significant biomagnification (to 107 times ambient water levels) and slow depuration of freshwater cyanotoxins, suggesting a potentially serious environmental and public health threat that extends from the lowest trophic levels of nutrient-impaired freshwater habitat to apex marine predators. Microcystin-poisoned sea otters were commonly recovered near river mouths and harbors and contaminated marine bivalves were implicated as the most likely source of this potent hepatotoxin for wild otters. This is the first report of deaths of marine mammals due to cyanotoxins and confirms the existence of a novel class of marine "harmful algal

  13. Evidence for a Novel Marine Harmful Algal Bloom: Cyanotoxin (Microcystin) Transfer from Land to Sea Otters

    PubMed Central

    Miller, Melissa A.; Kudela, Raphael M.; Mekebri, Abdu; Crane, Dave; Oates, Stori C.; Tinker, M. Timothy; Staedler, Michelle; Miller, Woutrina A.; Toy-Choutka, Sharon; Dominik, Clare; Hardin, Dane; Langlois, Gregg; Murray, Michael; Ward, Kim; Jessup, David A.

    2010-01-01

    “Super-blooms” of cyanobacteria that produce potent and environmentally persistent biotoxins (microcystins) are an emerging global health issue in freshwater habitats. Monitoring of the marine environment for secondary impacts has been minimal, although microcystin-contaminated freshwater is known to be entering marine ecosystems. Here we confirm deaths of marine mammals from microcystin intoxication and provide evidence implicating land-sea flow with trophic transfer through marine invertebrates as the most likely route of exposure. This hypothesis was evaluated through environmental detection of potential freshwater and marine microcystin sources, sea otter necropsy with biochemical analysis of tissues and evaluation of bioaccumulation of freshwater microcystins by marine invertebrates. Ocean discharge of freshwater microcystins was confirmed for three nutrient-impaired rivers flowing into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and microcystin concentrations up to 2,900 ppm (2.9 million ppb) were detected in a freshwater lake and downstream tributaries to within 1 km of the ocean. Deaths of 21 southern sea otters, a federally listed threatened species, were linked to microcystin intoxication. Finally, farmed and free-living marine clams, mussels and oysters of species that are often consumed by sea otters and humans exhibited significant biomagnification (to 107 times ambient water levels) and slow depuration of freshwater cyanotoxins, suggesting a potentially serious environmental and public health threat that extends from the lowest trophic levels of nutrient-impaired freshwater habitat to apex marine predators. Microcystin-poisoned sea otters were commonly recovered near river mouths and harbors and contaminated marine bivalves were implicated as the most likely source of this potent hepatotoxin for wild otters. This is the first report of deaths of marine mammals due to cyanotoxins and confirms the existence of a novel class of marine

  14. Age- and sex-specific mortality and population structure in sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Burdin, A.M.; Ryazanov, D.A.

    2000-01-01

    We used 742 beach-cast carcasses to characterize age- and sex-specific sea otter mortality during the winter of 1990-1991 at Bering Island, Russia. We also examined 363 carcasses recovered after the 1989 grounding of the T/V Exxon Valdez, to characterize age and sex composition in the living western Prince William Sound (WPWS) sea otter population. At Bering Island, mortality was male-biased (81%), and 75% were adults. The WPWS population was female-biased (59%) and most animals were subadult (79% of the males and 45% of the females). In the decade prior to 1990-1991 we found increasing sea otter densities (particularly among males), declining prey resources, and declining weights in adult male sea otters at Bering Island. Our findings suggest the increased mortality at Bering Island in 1990-1991 was a density-dependent population response. We propose male-maintained breeding territories and exclusion of juvenile females by adult females, providing a mechanism for potentially moderating the effects of prey reductions on the female population. Increased adult male mortality at Bearing Island in 1990-1991 likely modified the sex and age class structure there toward that observed in Prince William Sound.

  15. The flehmen response and pseudosuckling in a captive, juvenile Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Island, Heide D; Wengeler, Julia; Claussenius-Kalman, Hannah

    2017-01-01

    A juvenile, female sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) was observed in 43 instances of the flehmen response over 19 days from May through July of 2015 at the Oregon Zoo. In all flehmen grimace observations, the juvenile sea otter engaged in nibbling, nosing, or licking the peri-mammary or anogenital areas of a non-lactating, geriatric female sea otter. The flehmen behavior observed was consisted with the sequences of behavior documented in other mammals, lifting the head, elevating the nose to the air, retracting the upper lip slightly, and manipulating her mystacial vibrissae back and forth while rapidly inspiring air through her mouth in quick succession, tongue extruded. The occurrence of this behavior was not specific to visitor density, visitor impact rating, day of the month, time of day, or exhibit zone. However, it did occur more frequently in one area of the enclosure. Among the three sea otters (two females, one male) currently housed at the Oregon Zoo, the juvenile female's flehmen response only occurred following interactions with the older female and was always preceded by the pseudosuckling or anogenital nosing, licking or nibbling behavior. Zoo Biol. 36:30-39, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

  16. Pathogen exposure and blood chemistry in the Washington population of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from Washington State were evaluated in 2011 to determine health status and pathogen exposure. Antibodies to Brucella spp. (10%) and influenza A (23%) were detected for the first time in this population in 2011. Changes in clinical pathology values (serum...

  17. Phocine distemper virus in northern sea otters in the Pacific Ocean, Alaska, USA.

    PubMed

    Goldstein, Tracey; Mazet, Jonna A K; Gill, Verena A; Doroff, Angela M; Burek, Kathy A; Hammond, John A

    2009-06-01

    Phocine distemper virus (PDV) has caused 2 epidemics in harbor seals in the Atlantic Ocean but had never been identified in any Pacific Ocean species. We found that northern sea otters in Alaska are infected with PDV, which has created a disease threat to several sympatric and decreasing Pacific marine mammals.

  18. Dual Sarcocystis neurona and Toxoplasma gondii infection in a northern sea otter from Washington state, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lindsay, D.S.; Thomas, N.J.; Rosypal, A.C.; Dubey, J.P.

    2001-01-01

    Dual Sarcocystis neurona and Toxoplasma gondii infection was observed in a Northern sea otter from Washington, USA. The animal was found stranded, convulsed, and died shortly thereafter. Encephalitis caused by both S. neurona and T. gondii was demonstrated in histological sections of brain. Immunohistochemical examination of sections with S. neurona specific antisera demonstrated developmental stages that divided by endopolygeny and produced numerous merozoites. PCR of brain tissue from the sea otter using primer pairs JNB33/JNB54 resulted in amplification of a 1100 bp product. This PCR product was cut in to 884 and 216 bp products by Dra I but was not cut by Hinf I indicating that it was S. neurona [J. Parasitol. 85 (1999) 221]. No PCR product was detected in the brain of a sea otter which had no lesions of encephalitis. Examination of brain sections using T. gondii specific antisera demonstrated tachyzoites and tissue cysts of T. gondii. The lesions induced by T. gondii suggested that the sea otter was suffering from reactivated toxoplasmosis. T. gondii was isolated in mice inoculated with brain tissue. A cat that was fed infected mouse brain tissue excreted T. gondii oocysts which were infective for mice. This is apparently the first report of dual S. neurona and T. gondii in a marine mammal.

  19. Determining the pattern of cementum annuli and relationship to reproduction in male sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Proper, Josh; von Biela, Vanessa R.; Burns, Jennifer M.

    2007-01-01

    Since the early 1990s, the southwestern Alaskan sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population has declined dramatically and the cause has yet to be determined. Population trajectories of large mammals are determined by three factors: survival rate, reproduction rate, and age of first reproduction (AFR). Of these three, AFR should respond first to environmental change. Life history theory predicts that AFR will be older with bottom-up causes (ie, food limitation) and younger when the cause of the decline is top-down (ie, predation), as there is usually abundant resources in this scenario. Traditionally, determining AFR required lethal sampling, which may not always be possible. Work on many mammalian species suggests that the width of annual cementum layers in teeth may decline when breeding begins. If so, examining teeth annuli may provide a nonlethal alternative for determining AFR. Ongoing research has shown this relationship in female sea otters, but male sea otters have not been tested. Sea otter testes and premolar teeth slides were collected by subsistence hunters working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Sea Otter and Steller Sea Lion Commission from Alaska (1994– 2005). We determined the pattern in cementum annuli thickness for male sea otters across age by measuring annuli at three sites on each of the two slide sections available. We found that cementum annuli layers decreased with age, but found no correlation between cementum annuli and sexual maturity in male sea otters. This lack of correlation may be due to sampling error or different energy expenditures during reproduction for each sex. Since females expend large amounts of energy through gestation and lactation, we hypothesize that the width of female cementum annuli decreases at a much sharper rate when they reach AFR.The southwest Alaskan sea otter population has plummeted up to 90% since the early 1990s and the reason is unknown.1 Declines may be due to a bottom-up source caused by

  20. Pathogen exposure and blood chemistry in the Washington population of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    White, C. LeAnn; Schuler, Krysten L.; Thomas, Nancy J.; Webb, Julie L.; Saliki, Jeremiah T.; Ip, Hon S.; Dubey, J.P.; Frame, Elizabeth R.

    2013-01-01

    Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from Washington State, United States were evaluated in 2011 to determine health status and pathogen exposure. Antibodies to Brucella spp. (10%) and influenza A virus (23%) were detected for the first time in this population in 2011. Changes in clinical pathology values (serum chemistries), exposure to pathogens, and overall health of the population over the last decade were assessed by comparing 2011 data to the data collected on this population in 2001–2002. Several serum chemistry parameters were different between study years and sexes but were not clinically significant. The odds of canine distemper virus exposure were higher for otters sampled in 2001–2002 (80%) compared to 2011 (10%); likelihood of exposure significantly increased with age. Prevalence of exposure to Sarcocystis neurona was also higher in 2001–2002 (29%) than in 2011 (0%), but because testing methods varied between study years the results were not directly comparable. Exposure to Leptospira spp. was only observed in 2001–2002. Odds of Toxoplasma gondii exposure were higher for otters sampled in 2011 (97%) than otters in 2001–2002 (58%). Substantial levels of domoic acid (n = 2) and saxitoxin (n = 2) were found in urine or fecal samples from animals sampled in 2011. No evidence of calicivirus or Coxiella burnetii exposure in the Washington population of northern sea otters was found in either 2001–2002 or 2011. Changes in exposure status from 2001–2002 to 2011 suggest that the Washington sea otter population may be dealing with new disease threats (e.g., influenza) while also increasing their susceptibility to diseases that may be highly pathogenic in naïve individuals (e.g., canine distemper).

  1. Temporal patterns in the foraging behavior of sea otters in Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Esslinger, George G.; Bodkin, James L.; Breton, André R.; Burns, Jennifer M.; Monson, Daniel H.

    2014-01-01

    Activity time budgets in apex predators have been proposed as indicators of population status relative to resource limitation or carrying capacity. We used archival time-depth recorders implanted in 15 adult female and 4 male sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from the northernmost population of the species, Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, to examine temporal patterns in their foraging behavior. Sea otters that we sampled spent less time foraging during summer (females 8.8 hr/day, males 7.9 hr/day) than other seasons (females 10.1–10.5 hr/day, males 9.2–9.5 hr/day). Both sexes showed strong preferences for diurnal foraging and adjusted their foraging effort in response to the amount of available daylight. One exception to this diurnal foraging mode occurred after females gave birth. For approximately 3 weeks post-partum, females switched to nocturnal foraging, possibly in an effort to reduce the risk of predation by eagles on newborn pups. We used multilevel mixed regression models to assess the contribution of several biological and environmental covariates to variation in the daily foraging effort of parous females. In the random effects only model, 87% of the total variation in foraging effort was within-otter variation. The relatively small among-otter variance component (13%) indicates substantial consistency in the foraging effort of sea otters in this northern population. In the top 3 models, 17% of the within-otter variation was explained by reproductive stage, day length, wind speed, air temperature and a wind speed × air temperature interaction. This study demonstrates the potential importance of environmental and reproductive effects when using activity budgets to assess population status relative to carrying capacity.

  2. PREVALENCE, PATHOLOGY, AND RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH STREPTOCOCCUS PHOCAE INFECTION IN SOUTHERN SEA OTTERS (ENHYDRA LUTRIS NEREIS), 2004-10.

    PubMed

    Bartlett, Georgina; Smith, Woutrina; Dominik, Clare; Batac, Francesca; Dodd, Erin; Byrne, Barbara A; Jang, Spencer; Jessup, David; Chantrey, Julian; Miller, Melissa

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies have implicated beta-hemolytic streptococci as opportunistic pathogens of marine mammals, including southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), but little is known about their prevalence or pathophysiology. Herein, we focus on risk factors for sea otter infection by a single beta-hemolytic streptococcal species, Streptococcus phocae. Streptococcus phocae was first identified as a marine mammal pathogen in 1994, and the first report in southern sea otters was in 2009. Its broad host range encompasses fish, pinnipeds, cetaceans, and mustelids, with S. phocae now recognized as an important pathogen of marine species worldwide. We assessed risk factors and lesion patterns for S. phocae infection in southern sea otters. Using archival necropsy data, S. phocae prevalence was 40.5% in fresh dead otters examined 2004-10. Skin trauma of any type was identified as a significant risk factor for S. phocae infection. The risk of infection was similar regardless of the cause and relative severity of skin trauma, including mating or fight wounds, shark bite, and anthropogenic trauma. Streptococcus phocae-infected sea otters were also more likely to present with abscesses or bacterial septicemia. Our findings highlight the importance of S. phocae as an opportunistic pathogen of sea otters and suggest that the most likely portal of entry is damaged skin. Even tiny skin breaks appear to facilitate bacterial colonization, invasion, abscess formation, and systemic spread. Our data provide important insights for management and care of marine species.

  3. Preliminary findings of fecal gonadal hormone concentrations in six captive sea otters (Enhydra lutris) after deslorelin implantation.

    PubMed

    Larson, S; Belting, T; Rifenbury, K; Fisher, G; Boutelle, S M

    2013-01-01

    The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a popular exhibit animal in many zoos and aquariums worldwide. Captive sea otters from these populations are owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The USFWS has requested that these sea otters be prevented from breeding in order to save captive space for wild rescued animals. Sea otters are often housed in mixed sex groups, therefore a chemical contraceptive method or surgical removal of gonads must be used to prevent potential pregnancy. The contraceptive, Suprelorin® or deslorelin, has been used in many different species to effectively suppress reproduction but duration of effect may vary not only between species but also individuals. Here, we report the effects of one to several consecutive deslorelin implants on gonadal reproductive hormones found in fecal samples from six captive sea otters (two males and four females) compared to two control otters (one male and one female) housed at three zoological institutions. We documented the longitudinal hormone signatures of many stages of the contraceptive cycle including pretreatment (PT), stimulatory phase (S), effective contraception (EC), and hormone reversal (HR) that was characterized by a return to normal hormone levels. Deslorelin was found to be an effective contraceptive in sea otters and was found to be reversible documented by a live birth following treatment, however the duration of suppression in females was much longer than expected with a 6-month and a 1-year implant lasting between 3 and 4 years in females.

  4. Catastrophes and conservation: Lessons from sea otters and the Exxon Valdez

    SciTech Connect

    Estes, J.A. )

    1991-12-13

    In this commentary, the author considers the effort to save sea otters after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Despite immense expenditures, the emerging facts lead to two conclusions: population losses were poorly documented, and few animals were saved. These findings cast doubt on our ability to protect sea otters from future spills and lead to troubling questions about how to recognize and document the effects of catastrophic events, and, ultimately, the utility of highly visible and expensive efforts to save wildlife from perceived environmental catastrophes. On 24 March 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in northeastern Prince William Sound, spilling more than 10 million gallons of crude oil. Catastrophic losses were expected and a monumental effort was made to save sea otters. The Exxon Valdez spill spread over a linear distance of more than 700 kilometers and soiled an estimated 5,300 kilometers of shoreline. While cleaning up and capturing oiled wildlife for rehabilitation, 878 sea otter carcasses were recovered - a minimal estimate of loss. However, many animals killed by the spill undoubtedly were not found. Losses have been estimated from pre- and post-spill surveys, although these surveys shed little light on the population-level effect, mainly because the size and distribution of the population just prior to the spill is poorly known. This is because a comprehensive survey of Prince William Sound and adjacent waters was not done immediately after the spill but before oil dispersed into southwestern Prince William Sound and the northern Gulf of Alaska. Thus, although the Exxon Valdez spill undoubtedly killed many sea otters and may have reduced populations substantially, available data lack the power to demonstrate population changes.

  5. Inter-decadal patterns of population and dietary change in sea otters at Amchitka Island, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Watt, J.; Siniff, D.B.; Estes, J.A.

    2000-01-01

    After having been hunted to near-extinction in the Pacific maritime fur trade, the sea otter population at Amchitka Island, Alaska increased from very low numbers in the early 1900s to near equilibrium density by the 1940s. The population persisted at or near equilibrium through the 1980s, but declined sharply in the 1990s in apparent response to increased killer whale predation. Sea otter diet and foraging behavior were studied at Amchitka from August 1992 to March 1994 and the data compared with similar information obtained during several earlier periods. In contrast with dietary patterns in the 1960s and 1970s, when the sea otter population was at or near equilibrium density and kelp-forest fishes were the dietary mainstay, these fishes were rarely eaten in the 1990s. Benthic invertebrates, particularly sea urchins, dominated the otter's diet from early summer to midwinter, then decreased in importance during late winter and spring when numerous Pacific smooth lumpsuckers (a large and easily captured oceanic fish) were eaten. The occurrence of spawning lumpsuckers in coastal waters apparently is episodic on a scale of years to decades. The otters' recent dietary shift away from kelp-forest fishes is probably a response to the increased availability of lumpsuckers and sea urchins (both high-preference prey). Additionally, increased urchin densities have reduced kelp beds, thus further reducing the availability of kelp-forest fishes. Our findings suggest that dietary patterns reflect changes in population status and show how an ecosystem normally under top-down control and limited by coastal zone processes can be significantly perturbed by exogenous events.

  6. Setting realistic recovery targets for two interacting endangered species, sea otter and northern abalone.

    PubMed

    Chadès, Iadine; Curtis, Janelle M R; Martin, Tara G

    2012-12-01

    Failure to account for interactions between endangered species may lead to unexpected population dynamics, inefficient management strategies, waste of scarce resources, and, at worst, increased extinction risk. The importance of species interactions is undisputed, yet recovery targets generally do not account for such interactions. This shortcoming is a consequence of species-centered legislation, but also of uncertainty surrounding the dynamics of species interactions and the complexity of modeling such interactions. The northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) and one of its preferred prey, northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), are endangered species for which recovery strategies have been developed without consideration of their strong predator-prey interactions. Using simulation-based optimization procedures from artificial intelligence, namely reinforcement learning and stochastic dynamic programming, we combined sea otter and northern abalone population models with functional-response models and examined how different management actions affect population dynamics and the likelihood of achieving recovery targets for each species through time. Recovery targets for these interacting species were difficult to achieve simultaneously in the absence of management. Although sea otters were predicted to recover, achieving abalone recovery targets failed even when threats to abalone such as predation and poaching were reduced. A management strategy entailing a 50% reduction in the poaching of northern abalone was a minimum requirement to reach short-term recovery goals for northern abalone when sea otters were present. Removing sea otters had a marginally positive effect on the abalone population but only when we assumed a functional response with strong predation pressure. Our optimization method could be applied more generally to any interacting threatened or invasive species for which there are multiple conservation objectives.

  7. Mitochondrial-DNA variation among subspecies and populations of sea otters (Enhydra lutris)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Cronin, M.A.; Bodkin, J.L.; Ballachey, B.E.; Estes, J.A.; Patton, J.C.

    1996-01-01

    We used restriction-enzyme analysis of polymerase-chain reaction-amplified, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to assess genetic differentiation of subspecies and populations of sea otters throughout the range of the species. There were several haplotypes of mtDNA in each subspecies and geographically separate populations. MtDNA sequence divergence of haplotypes of sea otters was 0.0004-0.0041 base substitutions per nucleotide. E. l. nereis appears to have monophyletic mitochondrial DNA, while E. l. lutris and E. l. kenyoni do not. Different frequencies of haplotypes of mtDNA among populations reflect current restriction of gene flow and the unique histories of different populations. There are two or three haplotypes of mtDNA and diversity of haplotypes is 0.1376-0.5854 in each population of otters. This is consistent with theoretical work, which suggests that population bottlenecks of sea otters probably did not result in major losses of genetic variation for individual populations, or the species as a whole.

  8. Serologic evidence of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus in northern sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Li, Zhu-Nan; Ip, Hon S.; Frost, Jessica F.; White, C. LeAnn; Murray, Michael J.; Carney, Paul J.; Sun, Xiang-Jie; Stevens, James; Levine, Min Z.; Katz, Jacqueline M.

    2014-01-01

    Sporadic epizootics of pneumonia among marine mammals have been associated with multiple animal-origin influenza A virus subtypes (1–6); seals are the only known nonhuman host for influenza B viruses (7). Recently, we reported serologic evidence of influenza A virus infection in free-ranging northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) captured off the coast of Washington, USA, in August 2011 (8). To investigate further which influenza A virus subtype infected these otters, we tested serum samples from these otters by ELISA for antibody-binding activity against 12 recombinant hemagglutinins (rHAs) from 7 influenza A hemagglutinin (HA) subtypes and 2 lineages of influenza B virus (Technical Appendix Table 1). Estimated ages for the otters were 2–19 years (Technical Appendix Table 2); we also tested archived serum samples from sea otters of similar ages collected from a study conducted during 2001–2002 along the Washington coast (9).

  9. Gene transcript profiling in sea otters post-Exxon Valdez oil spill: A tool for marine ecosystem health assessment

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Waters, Shannon C.; Bodkin, James L.

    2016-01-01

    Using a panel of genes stimulated by oil exposure in a laboratory study, we evaluated gene transcription in blood leukocytes sampled from sea otters captured from 2006–2012 in western Prince William Sound (WPWS), Alaska, 17–23 years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS). We compared WPWS sea otters to reference populations (not affected by the EVOS) from the Alaska Peninsula (2009), Katmai National Park and Preserve (2009), Clam Lagoon at Adak Island (2012), Kodiak Island (2005) and captive sea otters in aquaria. Statistically, sea otter gene transcript profiles separated into three distinct clusters: Cluster 1, Kodiak and WPWS 2006–2008 (higher relative transcription); Cluster 2, Clam Lagoon and WPWS 2010–2012 (lower relative transcription); and Cluster 3, Alaska Peninsula, Katmai and captive sea otters (intermediate relative transcription). The lower transcription of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), an established biomarker for hydrocarbon exposure, in WPWS 2010–2012 compared to earlier samples from WPWS is consistent with declining hydrocarbon exposure, but the pattern of overall low levels of transcription seen in WPWS 2010–2012 could be related to other factors, such as food limitation, pathogens or injury, and may indicate an inability to mount effective responses to stressors. Decreased transcriptional response across the entire gene panel precludes the evaluation of whether or not individual sea otters show signs of exposure to lingering oil. However, related studies on sea otter demographics indicate that by 2012, the sea otter population in WPWS had recovered, which indicates diminishing oil exposure.

  10. A protozoal-associated epizootic impacting marine wildlife: Mass-mortality of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) due to Sarcocystis neurona infection

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Miller, M.A.; Conrad, P.A.; Harris, M.; Hatfield, B.; Langlois, G.; Jessup, David A.; Magargal, S.L.; Packham, A.E.; Toy-Choutka, S.; Melli, A.C.; Murray, M.A.; Gulland, F.M.; Grigg, M.E.

    2010-01-01

    During April 2004, 40 sick and dead southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were recovered over 18 km of coastline near Morro Bay, California. This event represented the single largest monthly spike in mortality ever recorded during 30 years of southern sea otter stranding data collection. Because of the point-source nature of the event and clinical signs consistent with severe, acute neurological disease, exposure to a chemical or marine toxin was initially considered. However, detailed postmortem examinations revealed lesions consistent with an infectious etiology, and further investigation confirmed the protozoan parasite Sarcocystis neurona as the underlying cause. Tissues from 94% of examined otters were PCR-positive for S. neurona, based on DNA amplification and sequencing at the ITS-1 locus, and 100% of tested animals (n= 14) had elevated IgM and IgG titers to S. neurona. Evidence to support the point-source character of this event include the striking spatial and temporal clustering of cases and detection of high concentrations of anti- S. neurona IgM in serum of stranded animals. Concurrent exposure to the marine biotoxin domoic acid may have enhanced susceptibility of affected otters to S. neurona and exacerbated the neurological signs exhibited by stranded animals. Other factors that may have contributed to the severity of this epizootic include a large rainstorm that preceded the event and an abundance of razor clams near local beaches, attracting numerous otters close to shore within the affected area. This is the first report of a localized epizootic in marine wildlife caused by apicomplexan protozoa. ?? 2010 Elsevier B.V.

  11. A protozoal-associated epizootic impacting marine wildlife: Mass-mortality of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) due to Sarcocystis neurona infection

    PubMed Central

    Conrad, Patricia A.; Harris, Michael; Hatfield, Brian; Langlois, Gregg; Jessup, David A.; Magargal, Spencer L.; Packham, Andrea E.; Toy-Choutka, Sharon; Melli, Ann C.; Murray, Michael A.; Gulland, Frances M.; Grigg, Michael E.

    2016-01-01

    During April, 2004, 40 sick and dead southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were recovered over 18 km of coastline near Morro Bay, California. This event represented the single largest monthly spike in mortality ever recorded during 30 years of southern sea otter stranding data collection. Because of the point-source nature of the event and clinical signs consistent with severe, acute neurological disease, exposure to a chemical or marine toxin was initially considered. However, detailed postmortem examinations revealed lesions consistent with an infectious etiology, and further investigation confirmed the protozoan parasite Sarcocystis neurona as the underlying cause. Tissues from 94% of examined otters were PCR-positive for S. neurona, based on DNA amplification and sequencing at the ITS-1 locus, and 100% of tested animals (n = 14) had elevated IgM and IgG titers to S. neurona. Evidence to support the point-source character of this event include the striking spatial and temporal clustering of cases and detection of high concentrations of anti-S. neurona IgM in serum of stranded animals. Concurrent exposure to the marine biotoxin domoic acid may have enhanced susceptibility of affected otters to S. neurona and exacerbated the neurological signs exhibited by stranded animals. Other factors that may have contributed to the severity of this epizootic include a large rainstorm that preceded the event and an abundance of razor clams near local beaches, attracting numerous otters close to shore within the affected area. This is the first report of a localized epizootic in marine wildlife caused by apicomplexan protozoa. PMID:20615616

  12. A protozoal-associated epizootic impacting marine wildlife: mass-mortality of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) due to Sarcocystis neurona infection.

    PubMed

    Miller, Melissa A; Conrad, Patricia A; Harris, Michael; Hatfield, Brian; Langlois, Gregg; Jessup, David A; Magargal, Spencer L; Packham, Andrea E; Toy-Choutka, Sharon; Melli, Ann C; Murray, Michael A; Gulland, Frances M; Grigg, Michael E

    2010-09-20

    During April 2004, 40 sick and dead southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were recovered over 18km of coastline near Morro Bay, California. This event represented the single largest monthly spike in mortality ever recorded during 30 years of southern sea otter stranding data collection. Because of the point-source nature of the event and clinical signs consistent with severe, acute neurological disease, exposure to a chemical or marine toxin was initially considered. However, detailed postmortem examinations revealed lesions consistent with an infectious etiology, and further investigation confirmed the protozoan parasite Sarcocystis neurona as the underlying cause. Tissues from 94% of examined otters were PCR-positive for S. neurona, based on DNA amplification and sequencing at the ITS-1 locus, and 100% of tested animals (n=14) had elevated IgM and IgG titers to S. neurona. Evidence to support the point-source character of this event include the striking spatial and temporal clustering of cases and detection of high concentrations of anti-S. neurona IgM in serum of stranded animals. Concurrent exposure to the marine biotoxin domoic acid may have enhanced susceptibility of affected otters to S. neurona and exacerbated the neurological signs exhibited by stranded animals. Other factors that may have contributed to the severity of this epizootic include a large rainstorm that preceded the event and an abundance of razor clams near local beaches, attracting numerous otters close to shore within the affected area. This is the first report of a localized epizootic in marine wildlife caused by apicomplexan protozoa.

  13. Limited effects of a keystone species: Trends of sea otters and kelp forests at the Semichi Islands, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Konar, B.

    2000-01-01

    Sea otters are well known as a keystone species because of their ability to transform sea urchin-dominated communities into kelp-dominated communities by preying on sea urchins and thus reducing the intensity of herbivory. After being locally extinct for more than a century, sea otters re-colonized the Semichi Islands in the Aleutian Archipelago, Alaska in the early 1990s. Here, otter populations increased to about 400 individuals by 1994, but rapidly declined to about 100 by 1997. Roughly 7 yr after initial otter re-colonization, there were only marginal changes in sea urchin biomass, mean maximum test size, and kelp density. These small changes may be the first steps in the cascading effects on community structure typically found with the invasion of a keystone species. However, no wholesale change in community structure occurred following re-colonization and growth of the sea otter population. Instead, this study describes a transition state and identifies factors such as keystone species density and residence time that can be important in dictating the degree to which otter effects are manifested.

  14. Assessing Risks to Sea Otters and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: New Scenarios, Attributable Risk, and Recovery

    PubMed Central

    Harwell, Mark A.; Gentile, John H.

    2014-01-01

    The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred more than two decades ago, and the Prince William Sound ecosystem has essentially recovered. Nevertheless, discussion continues on whether or not localized effects persist on sea otters (Enhydra lutris) at northern Knight Island (NKI) and, if so, what are the associated attributable risks. A recent study estimated new rates of sea otter encounters with subsurface oil residues (SSOR) from the oil spill. We previously demonstrated that a potential pathway existed for exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and conducted a quantitative ecological risk assessment using an individual-based model that simulated this and other plausible exposure pathways. Here we quantitatively update the potential for this exposure pathway to constitute an ongoing risk to sea otters using the new estimates of SSOR encounters. Our conservative model predicted that the assimilated doses of PAHs to the 1-in-1000th most-exposed sea otters would remain 1–2 orders of magnitude below the chronic effects thresholds. We re-examine the baseline estimates, post-spill surveys, recovery status, and attributable risks for this subpopulation. We conclude that the new estimated frequencies of encountering SSOR do not constitute a plausible risk for sea otters at NKI and these sea otters have fully recovered from the oil spill. PMID:24587690

  15. Assessing Risks to Sea Otters and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: New Scenarios, Attributable Risk, and Recovery.

    PubMed

    Harwell, Mark A; Gentile, John H

    2014-06-01

    The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred more than two decades ago, and the Prince William Sound ecosystem has essentially recovered. Nevertheless, discussion continues on whether or not localized effects persist on sea otters (Enhydra lutris) at northern Knight Island (NKI) and, if so, what are the associated attributable risks. A recent study estimated new rates of sea otter encounters with subsurface oil residues (SSOR) from the oil spill. We previously demonstrated that a potential pathway existed for exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and conducted a quantitative ecological risk assessment using an individual-based model that simulated this and other plausible exposure pathways. Here we quantitatively update the potential for this exposure pathway to constitute an ongoing risk to sea otters using the new estimates of SSOR encounters. Our conservative model predicted that the assimilated doses of PAHs to the 1-in-1000th most-exposed sea otters would remain 1-2 orders of magnitude below the chronic effects thresholds. We re-examine the baseline estimates, post-spill surveys, recovery status, and attributable risks for this subpopulation. We conclude that the new estimated frequencies of encountering SSOR do not constitute a plausible risk for sea otters at NKI and these sea otters have fully recovered from the oil spill.

  16. Quantifying long-term risks to sea otters from the 1989 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill: reply to Harwell & Gentile (2013)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ballachey, Brenda E.; Bodkin, James L.; Monson, Daniel H.

    2013-01-01

    Recovery of sea otter populations in Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska, has been delayed for more than 2 decades following the 1989 ‘Exxon Valdez’ oil spill. Harwell & Gentile (2013; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 488:291–296) question our conclusions in Bodkin et al. (2012; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 447:273-287) regarding adverse effects that oil lingering in the environment may have on sea otters. They agree that exposure may continue, but disagree that it constitutes a significant risk to sea otters. In Bodkin et al. (2012), we suggested that subtle effects of chronic exposure were the most reasonable explanation for delayed recovery of the sea otter population in areas of western PWS, where shorelines were most heavily oiled. Here, we provide additional information on the ecology of sea otters that clarifies why the toxicological effects of oral ingestion of oil do not reflect all effects of chronic exposure. The full range of energetic, behavioral, and toxicological concerns must be considered to appraise how chronic exposure to residual oil may constrain recovery of sea otter populations.

  17. Mortality sensitivity in life-stage simulation analysis: A case study of southern sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gerber, L.R.; Tinker, M.T.; Doak, D.F.; Estes, J.A.; Jessup, David A.

    2004-01-01

    Currently, there are no generally recognized approaches for linking detailed mortality and pathology data to population-level analyses of extinction risk. We used a combination of analytical and simulation-based analyses to examine 20 years of age- and sex-specific mortality data for southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris), and we applied results to project the efficacy of alternative conservation strategies. Population recovery of the southern sea otter has been slow (rate of population increase ?? = 1.05) compared to other recovering populations (?? = 1.17-1.20), and the population declined (?? = 0.975) between 1995 and 1999. Age-based Leslie matrices were developed to explore explanations for the slow recovery and recent decline in the southern sea other population. An elasticity analysis was performed to predict effects of proportional changes in stage-specific reproductive or survival rates on the rate of population increase. A life-stage simulation analysis (LSA) was developed to evaluate the impact of changing age- and cause-specific mortality rates on ??. The information used to develop these models was derived from death assemblage, pathology, and live population census data to examine the sensitivity of sea otter population growth to different sources of mortality (e.g., disease and starvation, direct human take [fisheries, gun shot, boat strike, oil pollution], mating trauma and intraspecific aggression, shark bites, and unknown). We used resampling simulations to generate random combinations of vital rates for a large number of matrix replicates and drew on these to estimate potential effects of mortality sources on population growth (??). Our analyses suggest management actions that are likely and unlikely to promote recovery of the southern sea otter and more broadly indicate a methodology to better utilize cause-of-death data in conservation decision-making.

  18. The high cost of reproduction in sea otters necessitates unique physiological adaptations.

    PubMed

    Thometz, Nicole M; Kendall, Traci L; Richter, Beau P; Williams, Terrie M

    2016-08-01

    Superimposed on inherently high basal metabolic demands, the additional energetic requirements of reproduction can push female sea otters beyond physiological limits. Indeed, the resulting energy imbalance contributes to disproportionately high rates of mortality at the end of lactation in this species. To examine and quantify metabolic changes associated with reproduction, we measured the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of a female sea otter across gestation, lactation and non-reproductive periods. Concurrently, measurements were made on a non-breeding control female. Our results suggest that RMR declines during gestation. Conversely, RMR increases during lactation, reaches a peak at 3-4 months postpartum, and remains elevated until weaning. Combining these direct measurements with published data, we found the cost of pup rearing to be significantly higher than previously estimated. High baseline energy demands and limited energy reserves, combined with significant lactation and pup rearing costs, appear to necessitate metabolic and thermal lability during key reproductive stages.

  19. Reproduction, preweaning survival, and survival of adult sea otters at Kodiak Island, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Monson, Daniel H.; DeGange, Anthony R.

    1995-01-01

    Radiotelemetry methods were used to examine the demographic characteristics of sea otters inhabiting the leading edge of an expanding population on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Fifteen male and 30 female sea otters were instrumented and followed from 1986 to 1990. Twenty-one percent of females were sexually mature (had pupped) at age 2, 57% by age 3, 88% by age 4, and 100% by age 5. Fifteen females produced 26 pups, an overall reproduction rate of 94% for mature females. The reproduction rate was 17, 45, 66, and 100% for 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, respectively. Eighty-five percent of observed pups survived to weaning (120 days), and the percentage of pups weaned ranged from 34% for pups of 2-year-olds to 100% for pups of 5-year-olds. At least three of four known pup losses occurred within a month of parturition. The mean pup dependency period for weaned pups was 153 days and the mean gestation period was 218 days. No synchrony in pupping activity was observed. Mean annual survival of adults was high. Estimates of survival ranged from 89 to 96% for females and 86 to 91% for males. Human harvest was the primary source of known mortality of adults. Our estimates of reproductive rates and survival of adults are at the high end of those reported for sea otters, but preweaning survival stands out as being particularly high. Abundant food resources and the availability of protected water presumably contributed to the high reproductive success observed in this recently established sea otter population.

  20. Ontogenetic Scaling of Theoretical Bite Force in Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Law, Chris J; Young, Colleen; Mehta, Rita S

    2016-01-01

    Sexual dimorphism attributed to niche divergence is often linked to differentiation between the sexes in both dietary resources and characters related to feeding and resource procurement. Although recent studies have indicated that southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) exhibit differences in dietary preferences as well as sexual dimorphism in skull size and shape, whether these intersexual differences translate to differentiation in feeding performances between the sexes remains to be investigated. To test the hypothesis that scaling patterns of bite force, a metric of feeding performance, differ between the sexes, we calculated theoretical bite forces for 55 naturally deceased male and female southern sea otters spanning the size ranges encountered over ontogeny. We then used standardized major axis regressions to simultaneously determine the scaling patterns of theoretical bite forces and skull components across ontogeny and assess whether these scaling patterns differed between the sexes. We found that positive allometric increases in theoretical bite force resulted from positive allometric increases in physiological cross-sectional area for the major jaw adductor muscle and mechanical advantage. Closer examination revealed that allometric increases in temporalis muscle mass and relative allometric decreases in out-lever lengths are driving these patterns. In our analysis of sexual dimorphism, we found that scaling patterns of theoretical bite force and morphological traits do not differ between the sexes. However, adult sea otters differed in their absolute bite forces, revealing that adult males exhibited greater bite forces as a result of their larger sizes. We found intersexual differences in biting ability that provide some support for the niche divergence hypothesis. Continued work in this field may link intersexual differences in feeding functional morphology with foraging ecology to show how niche divergence has the potential to reinforce sexual

  1. 2013 update on sea otter studies to assess recovery from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, Prince William Sound, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ballachey, Brenda E.; Monson, Daniel H.; Esslinger, George G.; Kloecker, Kimberly; Bodkin, James; Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith

    2014-01-01

    On March 24, 1989, the tanker vessel Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling an estimated 42 million liters of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Oil spread in a southwesterly direction and was deposited on shores and waters in western Prince William Sound (WPWS). The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) was one of more than 20 nearshore species considered to have been injured by the spill. Since 1989, the U.S. Geological Survey has led a research program to evaluate effects of the spill on sea otters and assess progress toward recovery, as defined by demographic and biochemical indicators. Here, we provide an update on the status of sea otter populations in WPWS, presenting findings through 2013. To assess recovery based on demographic indicators, we used aerial surveys to estimate abundance and annual collections of sea otter carcasses to evaluate patterns in ages-at-death. To assess recovery based on biochemical indicators, we quantified transcription rates for a suite of genes selected as potential indicators of oil exposure in sea otters based on laboratory studies of a related species, the mink (Mustela vison). In our most recent assessment of sea otter recovery, which incorporated results from a subset of studies through 2009, we concluded that recovery of sea otters in WPWS was underway. This conclusion was based on increasing abundance throughout WPWS, including increasing numbers at northern Knight Island, an area that was heavily oiled in 1989 and where the local sea otter population had previously shown protracted injury and lack of recovery. However, we did not conclude that the WPWS sea otter population had fully recovered, due to indications of continuing reduced survival and exposure to lingering oil in sea otters at Knight Island, at least through 2009. Based on data available through 2013, we now conclude that the status of sea otters—at all spatial scales within WPWS—is consistent with the designation of recovery from the spill as

  2. Organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Kannan, K; Kajiwara, N; Le Boeuf, B J; Tanabe, S

    2004-10-01

    Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDTs, chlordanes, HCHs, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, tris(4-chlorophenyl)methane (TCPMe), and tris(4-chlorophenyl)methanol (TCPMOH) were measured in the blubber of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) collected in 2000. DDTs were the most predominant contaminants, followed by PCBs, chlordanes, TCPMe, HCHs, TCPMOH, dieldrin, and heptachlor epoxide. Concentrations of PCBs and DDTs varied from a few microg/g to several hundreds of microg/g on a lipid weight basis. Concentrations of DDTs have declined by an order of magnitude over the last three decades in California sea lions; nevertheless, the measured concentrations of PCBs and DDTs in California sea lions are still some of the highest values reported for marine mammals in recent years. Concentrations of organochlorines were highly correlated with one another. Concentrations of PCBs and DDTs in the blubber of gray whale, humpback whale, northern elephant seal, and harbor seal, and in the adipose fat of sea otter, were lower than the levels found in California sea lions, and were in the range of a few to several microg/g on a lipid weight basis.

  3. Stress-related hormones and genetic diversity in sea otters (Enhydra lutris)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Larson, S.; Monson, D.; Ballachey, B.; Jameson, R.; Wasser, S.K.

    2009-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) once ranged throughout the coastal regions of the north Pacific, but were extirpated throughout their range during the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, leaving only small, widely scattered, remnant populations. All extant sea otter populations are believed to have experienced a population bottleneck and thus have lost genetic variation. Populations that undergo severe population reduction and associated inbreeding may suffer from a general reduction in fitness termed inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression may result in decreased testosterone levels in males, and reduced ability to respond to stressful stimuli associated with an increase in the stress-related adrenal glucocorticoid hormones, cortisol and corticosterone. We investigated correlations of testosterone, cortisol, and corticosterone with genetic diversity in sea otters from five populations. We found a significant negative correlation between genetic diversity and both mean population-level (r2 = 0.27, P < 0.001) and individual-level (r2 = 0.54, P < 0.001) corticosterone values, as well as a negative correlation between genetic diversity and cortisol at the individual level (r2 = 0.17, P = 0.04). No relationship was found between genetic diversity and testosterone (P = 0.57). The strength of the correlations, especially with corticosterone, suggests potential negative consequences for overall population health, particularly for populations with the lowest genetic diversity. ?? 2009 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

  4. Foraging patterns and prey selection in an increasing and expanding sea otter population

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Laidre, K.L.; Jameson, R.J.

    2006-01-01

    Focal observations of sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) foraging patterns and prey selection were collected in coastal Washington between 1993 and 1999. Records consisted of 13,847 individual dives from 841 feeding bouts ranging from 1 min to >4 h. Average dive time was 55 s ?? 0.9 SE and average surface time was 45 s ?? 2.3 SE, irrespective of dive success. At least 77% of all dives (n = 10,636) were successful prey captures (dives in low light or of undetermined success were excluded). Prey capture success was significantly lower for subadults (63% ?? 5 SE) than adults (82% ?? 1 SE; P 60% red urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus), with only 2 other prey species comprising >10% of their diet. Prey size and prey category were dominant predictor variables in generalized linear models of dive duration and postdive surface duration on successful dives. Significant increases in areal extent of surface canopy of giant kelp (Macrocystis integrifolia) and bull kelp (Nereocystis leutkeana) were found both in the outer coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (0.4-0.5 km2 per year, P < 0.05) and suggest increasing suitable habitat for a growing population. The growth and expansion of a small and isolated sea otter population provides a unique opportunity to examine the relationship between dietary diversity and population status and explore similarities and differences between trophic paradigms established for sea otter populations at other localities. ?? 2006 American Society of Mammalogists.

  5. The interaction of intraspecific competition and habitat on individual diet specialization: a near range-wide examination of sea otters.

    PubMed

    Newsome, Seth D; Tinker, M Tim; Gill, Verena A; Hoyt, Zachary N; Doroff, Angela; Nichol, Linda; Bodkin, James L

    2015-05-01

    The quantification of individuality is a common research theme in the fields of population, community, and evolutionary ecology. The potential for individuality to arise is likely context-dependent, and the influence of habitat characteristics on its prevalence has received less attention than intraspecific competition. We examined individual diet specialization in 16 sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations from southern California to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Because population histories, relative densities, and habitat characteristics vary widely among sites, we could examine the effects of intraspecific competition and habitat on the prevalence of individual diet specialization. Using observed diet data, we classified half of our sites as rocky substrate habitats and the other half containing a mixture of rocky and unconsolidated (soft) sediment substrates. We used stable isotope data to quantify population- and individual-level diet variation. Among rocky substrate sites, the slope [±standard error (SE)] of the positive significant relationship between the within-individual component (WIC) and total isotopic niche width (TINW) was shallow (0.23 ± 0.07) and negatively correlated with sea otter density. In contrast, the slope of the positive WIC/TINW relationship for populations inhabiting mixed substrate habitats was much higher (0.53 ± 0.14), suggesting a low degree of individuality, irrespective of intraspecific competition. Our results show that the potential for individuality to occur as a result of increasing intraspecific competition is context-dependent and that habitat characteristics, which ultimately influence prey diversity, relative abundance, and the range of skillsets required for efficient prey procurement, are important in determining when and where individual diet specialization occurs in nature.

  6. The interaction of intraspecific competition and habitat on individual diet specialization: a near range-wide examination of sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Newsome, Seth D.; Tinker, M. Tim; Gill, Verena A.; Hoyt, Zachary N.; Doroff, Angela M.; Nichol, Linda; Bodkin, James L.

    2015-01-01

    The quantification of individuality is a common research theme in the fields of population, community, and evolutionary ecology. The potential for individuality to arise is likely context-dependent, and the influence of habitat characteristics on its prevalence has received less attention than intraspecific competition. We examined individual diet specialization in 16 sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations from southern California to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Because population histories, relative densities, and habitat characteristics vary widely among sites, we could examine the effects of intraspecific competition and habitat on the prevalence of individual diet specialization. Using observed diet data, we classified half of our sites as rocky substrate habitats and the other half containing a mixture of rocky and unconsolidated (soft) sediment substrates. We used stable isotope data to quantify population- and individual-level diet variation. Among rocky substrate sites, the slope [±standard error (SE)] of the positive significant relationship between the within-individual component (WIC) and total isotopic niche width (TINW) was shallow (0.23 ± 0.07) and negatively correlated with sea otter density. In contrast, the slope of the positive WIC/TINW relationship for populations inhabiting mixed substrate habitats was much higher (0.53 ± 0.14), suggesting a low degree of individuality, irrespective of intraspecific competition. Our results show that the potential for individuality to occur as a result of increasing intraspecific competition is context-dependent and that habitat characteristics, which ultimately influence prey diversity, relative abundance, and the range of skillsets required for efficient prey procurement, are important in determining when and where individual diet specialization occurs in nature.

  7. Novel urease-negative Helicobacter sp. 'H. enhydrae sp. nov.' isolated from inflamed gastric tissue of southern sea otters.

    PubMed

    Shen, Zeli; Batac, Francesca; Mannion, Anthony; Miller, Melissa A; Bakthavatchalu, Vasudevan; Ho, Calvin; Manning, Sean; Paster, Bruce J; Fox, James G

    2017-02-08

    A total of 31 sea otters Enhydra lutris nereis found dead or moribund (and then euthanized) were necropsied in California, USA. Stomach biopsies were collected and transected with equal portions frozen or placed in formalin and analyzed histologically and screened for Helicobacter spp. in gastric tissue. Helicobacter spp. were isolated from 9 sea otters (29%); 58% (18 of 31) animals were positive for helicobacter by PCR. The Helicobacter sp. was catalase- and oxidase-positive and urease-negative. By electron microscopy, the Helicobacter sp. had lateral and polar sheathed flagella and had a slightly curved rod morphology. 16S and 23S rRNA sequence analyses of all 'H. enhydrae' isolates had similar sequences, which clustered as a novel Helicobacter sp. closely related to H. mustelae (96-97%). The genome sequence of isolate MIT 01-6242 was assembled into a single ~1.6 Mb long contig with a 40.8% G+C content. The annotated genome contained 1699 protein-coding sequences and 43 RNAs, including 65 genes homologous to known Helicobacter spp. and Campylobacter spp. virulence factors. Histological changes in the gastric tissues extended from mild cystic degeneration of gastric glands to severe mucosal erosions and ulcers. Silver stains of infected tissues demonstrated slightly curved bacterial rods at the periphery of the gastric ulcers and on the epithelial surface of glands. The underlying mucosa and submucosa were infiltrated by low numbers of neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes, with occasional lymphoid aggregates and well-defined lymphoid follicles. This is the second novel Helicobacter sp., which we have named 'H. enhydrae', isolated from inflamed stomachs of mustelids, the first being H. mustelae from a ferret.

  8. Biological characterisation of Sarcocystis neurona isolated from a Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lindsay, D.S.; Thomas, N.J.; Dubey, J.P.

    2000-01-01

    Sarcocystis neurona was isolated from the brain of a juvenile, male southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) suffering from CNS disease. Schizonts and merozoites in tissue sections of the otter's brain reacted with anti-S. neurona antiserum immunohistochemically. Development in cell culture was by endopolyogeny and mature schizonts were first observed at 3 days postinoculation. PCR of merozoite DNA using primer pairs JNB33/JNB54 and restriction enzyme digestion of the 1100 bp product with Dra I indicated the organism was S. neurona. Four of four interferon-γ gene knockout mice inoculated with merozoites developed S. neurona-associated encephalitis. Antibodies to S. neurona but not Sarcocystis falcatula, Toxoplasma gondii, or Neospora caninum were present in the serum of inoculated mice. This is the first isolation of S. neurona from the brain of a non-equine host.

  9. Clinical and clinical laboratory correlates in sea otters dying unexpectedly in rehabilitation centers following the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    PubMed

    Rebar, A H; Lipscomb, T P; Harris, R K; Ballachey, B E

    1995-07-01

    Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, 347 oiled sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were treated in rehabilitation centers. Of these, 116 died, 94 within 10 days of presentation. Clinical records of 21 otters dying during the first 10 days of rehabilitation were reviewed to define the laboratory abnormalities and clinical syndromes associated with these unexpected deaths. The most common terminal syndrome was shock characterized by hypothermia, lethargy, and often hemorrhagic diarrhea. In heavily and moderately oiled otters, shock developed within 48 hours of initial presentation, whereas in lightly oiled otters shock generally occurred during the second week of captivity. Accompanying laboratory abnormalities included leukopenia with increased numbers of immature neutrophils (degenerative left shift), lymphopenia, anemia, azotemia (primarily prerenal), hyperkalemia, hypoproteinemia/hypoalbuminemia, elevations of serum transaminases, and hypoglycemia. Shock associated with hemorrhagic diarrhea probably occurred either as a direct primary effect of oiling or as an indirect effect secondary to confinement and handling in the rehabilitation centers. Lightly oiled otters were less likely to die from shock than were heavily oiled otters (22% vs. 72%, respectively). Heavily oiled otters developed shock more rapidly and had greater numbers of laboratory abnormalities, suggesting that exposure to oil was an important contributing factor.

  10. Clinical and clinical laboratory correlates in sea otters dying unexpectedly in rehabilitation centers following the Exxon Valdez oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rebar, A.H.; Lipscomb, T.P.; Harris, R.K.; Ballachey, B.E.

    1995-01-01

    Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, 347 oiled sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were treated in rehabilitation centers. Of these, 116 died, 94 within 10 days of presentation. Clinical records of 21 otters dying during the first 10 days of rehabilitation were reviewed to define the laboratory abnormalities and clinical syndromes associated with these unexpected deaths. The most common terminal syndrome was shock characterized by hypothermia, lethargy, and often hemorrhagic diarrhea. In heavily and moderately oiled otters, shock developed within 48 hours of initial presentation, whereas in lightly oiled otters shock generally occurred during the second week of captivity. Accompanying laboratory abnormalities included leukopenia with increased numbers of immature neutrophils (degenerative left shift), lymphopenia, anemia, azotemia (primarily prerenal), hyperkalemia, hypoproteinemia/hypoalbuminemia, elevations of serum transaminases, and hypoglycemia. Shock associated with hemorrhagic diarrhea probably occurred either as a direct primary effect of oiling or as an indirect effect secondary to confinement and handling in the rehabilitation centers. Lightly oiled otters were less likely to die from shock than were heavily oiled otters (22% vs. 72%, respectively). Heavily oiled otters developed shock more rapidly and had greater numbers of laboratory abnormalities, suggesting that exposure to oil was an important contributing factor.

  11. Using ecological function to develop recovery criteria for depleted species: sea otters and kelp forests in the Aleutian archipelago

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Estes, James A.; Tinker, M. Tim; Bodkin, James L.

    2010-01-01

    Recovery criteria for depleted species or populations normally are based on demographic measures, the goal being to maintain enough individuals over a sufficiently large area to assure a socially tolerable risk of future extinction. Such demographically based recovery criteria may be insufficient to restore the functional roles of strongly interacting species. We explored the idea of developing a recovery criterion for sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in the Aleutian archipelago on the basis of their keystone role in kelp forest ecosystems. We surveyed sea otters and rocky reef habitats at 34 island-time combinations. The system nearly always existed in either a kelp-dominated or deforested phase state, which was predictable from sea otter density. We used a resampling analysis of these data to show that the phase state at any particular island can be determined at 95% probability of correct classification with information from as few as six sites. When sea otter population status (and thus the phase state of the kelp forest) was allowed to vary randomly among islands, just 15 islands had to be sampled to estimate the true proportion that were kelp dominated (within 10%) with 90% confidence. We conclude that kelp forest phase state is a more appropriate, sensitive, and cost-effective measure of sea otter recovery than the more traditional demographically based metrics, and we suggest that similar approaches have broad potential utility in establishing recovery criteria for depleted populations of other functionally important species.

  12. Using ecological function to develop recovery criteria for depleted species: sea otters and kelp forests in the Aleutian archipelago.

    PubMed

    Estes, James A; Tinker, M Tim; Bodkin, James L

    2010-06-01

    Recovery criteria for depleted species or populations normally are based on demographic measures, the goal being to maintain enough individuals over a sufficiently large area to assure a socially tolerable risk of future extinction. Such demographically based recovery criteria may be insufficient to restore the functional roles of strongly interacting species. We explored the idea of developing a recovery criterion for sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in the Aleutian archipelago on the basis of their keystone role in kelp forest ecosystems. We surveyed sea otters and rocky reef habitats at 34 island-time combinations. The system nearly always existed in either a kelp-dominated or deforested phase state, which was predictable from sea otter density. We used a resampling analysis of these data to show that the phase state at any particular island can be determined at 95% probability of correct classification with information from as few as six sites. When sea otter population status (and thus the phase state of the kelp forest) was allowed to vary randomly among islands, just 15 islands had to be sampled to estimate the true proportion that were kelp dominated (within 10%) with 90% confidence. We conclude that kelp forest phase state is a more appropriate, sensitive, and cost-effective measure of sea otter recovery than the more traditional demographically based metrics, and we suggest that similar approaches have broad potential utility in establishing recovery criteria for depleted populations of other functionally important species.

  13. Temporal variations of natural and anthropogenic radionuclides in sea otter skull tissue in the North Pacific Ocean

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Baskaran, M.; Hong, G.-H.; Dayton, S.; Bodkin, J.L.; Kelley, J.J.

    2002-01-01

    Marine mammals being among the top predators in the food web tend to accumulate organic and inorganic contaminants from the environment. The body burden of contaminants in these species could reflect their foods and thus contaminant levels could serve as proxies on the changes of ecosystem. A pilot study was carried out to investigate the possibility of radionuclide leakage at Amchitka using a suite of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) skulls collected near Amchitka nuclear test-sites before (1950s) and after the testing (1990s), and at Adak, another Aleutian Island, about 300 km from Amchitka, where the potential impact of radionuclide leakage from Amchitka is expected to be negligible. In addition, the naturally occurring and anthropogenic radionuclide content on the sea otter skull was also utilized to investigate if there was any significant ecosystem changes in the environment. Concentration of 210Pb in sea otter bones collected during the 1950s was significantly higher than those collected in the 1990s. We propose that among the various factors that could cause this higher enrichment in 210Pb, changes in the sea otter prey is the most likely one. Comparison of the 137Cs, 90Sr, 239,240Pu concentrations appear not to be significantly higher in sea otter skulls collected in 1990s from Amchitka where the underground tests in 1965-71 than those from Adak, although significant differences were detected among different groups collected at various times. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

  14. Temporal variations of natural and anthropogenic radionuclides in sea otter skull tissue in the North Pacific Ocean

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Baskaran, M.; Hong, G.-H.; Dayton, S.; Bodkin, J.L.; Kelly, J.J.

    2003-01-01

    Marine mammals being in the top predator in the food web tend to accumulate organic and inorganic contaminants from the environment. The body burden of contaminants in these species could reflect their foods and thus contaminant levels could serve as proxies on the changes of ecosystem. A pilot study was carried out to investigate the possibility of radionuclide leakage at Amchitka using a suite of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) skulls collected near Amchitka nuclear test-sites before (1950s) and after the testing (1990s), and at Adak, another Aleutian Island, about 300 km from Amchitka, where the potential impact of radionuclide leakage from Amchitka is expected to be negligible. In addition, the naturally occurring and anthropogenic radionuclide content on the sea otter skull was also utilized to investigate if there was any significant ecosystem changes in the environment. Concentration of 210Pb in sea otter bones collected during the 1950's was significantly higher than those collected in the 1990's. We propose that among the various factors that could cause this higher enrichment in 210Pb, changes in the sea otter prey is the most likely one. Comparison of the 137Cs, 90Sr, 239,240Pu concentrations appear not to be significantly higher in sea otter skulls collected in 1990s from Amchitka where the underground tests in 1965-71 than those from Adak, although significant differences were detected among different groups collected at various times.

  15. Genotypic characterization of Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli isolates from sea otters with infective endocarditis and/or septicemia and from environmental mussel samples.

    PubMed

    Counihan-Edgar, Katrina L; Gill, Verena A; Doroff, Angela M; Burek, Kathleen A; Miller, Woutrina A; Shewmaker, Patricia L; Jang, Spencer; Goertz, Caroline E C; Tuomi, Pamela A; Miller, Melissa A; Jessup, David A; Byrne, Barbara A

    2012-12-01

    Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was used to type 128 Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli isolates from sea otters and mussels. Six SmaI PFGE groups were detected, with one predominant group representing 57% of the isolates collected over a wide geographic region. Several sea otter and mussel isolates were highly related, suggesting that an environmental infection source is possible.

  16. Genotypic Characterization of Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli Isolates from Sea Otters with Infective Endocarditis and/or Septicemia and from Environmental Mussel Samples

    PubMed Central

    Counihan-Edgar, Katrina L.; Gill, Verena A.; Doroff, Angela M.; Burek, Kathleen A.; Miller, Woutrina A.; Shewmaker, Patricia L.; Jang, Spencer; Goertz, Caroline E. C.; Tuomi, Pamela A.; Miller, Melissa A.; Jessup, David A.

    2012-01-01

    Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was used to type 128 Streptococcus infantarius subsp. coli isolates from sea otters and mussels. Six SmaI PFGE groups were detected, with one predominant group representing 57% of the isolates collected over a wide geographic region. Several sea otter and mussel isolates were highly related, suggesting that an environmental infection source is possible. PMID:23052307

  17. Visual pigments of marine carnivores: pinnipeds, polar bear, and sea otter.

    PubMed

    Levenson, David H; Ponganis, Paul J; Crognale, Michael A; Deegan, Jess F; Dizon, Andy; Jacobs, Gerald H

    2006-08-01

    Rod and cone visual pigments of 11 marine carnivores were evaluated. Rod, middle/long-wavelength sensitive (M/L) cone, and short-wavelength sensitive (S) cone opsin (if present) sequences were obtained from retinal mRNA. Spectral sensitivity was inferred through evaluation of known spectral tuning residues. The rod pigments of all but one of the pinnipeds were similar to those of the sea otter, polar bear, and most other terrestrial carnivores with spectral peak sensitivities (lambda(max)) of 499 or 501 nm. Similarly, the M/L cone pigments of the pinnipeds, polar bear, and otter had inferred lambda(max) of 545 to 560 nm. Only the rod opsin sequence of the elephant seal had sensitivity characteristic of adaptation for vision in the marine environment, with an inferred lambda(max) of 487 nm. No evidence of S cones was found for any of the pinnipeds. The polar bear and otter had S cones with inferred lambda(max) of approximately 440 nm. Flicker-photometric ERG was additionally used to examine the in situ sensitivities of three species of pinniped. Despite the use of conditions previously shown to evoke cone responses in other mammals, no cone responses could be elicited from any of these pinnipeds. Rod photoreceptor responses for all three species were as predicted by the genetic data.

  18. Sediment-associated aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in coastal British Columbia, Canada: concentrations, composition, and associated risks to protected sea otters.

    PubMed

    Harris, Kate A; Yunker, Mark B; Dangerfield, Neil; Ross, Peter S

    2011-10-01

    Sediment-associated hydrocarbons can pose a risk to wildlife that rely on benthic marine food webs. We measured hydrocarbons in sediments from the habitat of protected sea otters in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Alkane concentrations were dominated by higher odd-chain n-alkanes at all sites, indicating terrestrial plant inputs. While remote sites were dominated by petrogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), small harbour sites within sea otter habitat and sites from an urban reference area reflected weathered petroleum and biomass and fossil fuel combustion. The partitioning of hydrocarbons between sediments and adjacent food webs provides an important exposure route for sea otters, as they consume ∼25% of their body weight per day in benthic invertebrates. Thus, exceedences of PAH sediment quality guidelines designed to protect aquatic biota at 20% of the sites in sea otter habitat suggest that sea otters are vulnerable to hydrocarbon contamination even in the absence of catastrophic oil spills.

  19. Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) perspective: Mechanisms of impact and potential recovery of nearshore vertebrate predators following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Part A. Sea otter population status and the process of recovery from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Ballachey, B.E.; Dean, T.A.; Fukuyama, A.K.; Jewett, S.C.; McDonald, L.; Monson, D.H.; O'Clair, Charles E.; VanBlaricom, G.R.; Holland-Bartels, L. E.

    2002-01-01

    Sea otter (Enhydra lutris populations were severely affects by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in western Prince William Sound, AK, and had not fully recovered by 2000. Here we present results of population surveys and incorporate findings from related studies to identify current population status and factors affecting recovery. Between 1993 and 2000, the number of sea otters in the spill-area of Prince William Sound increased by about 600 to nearly 2700. However, at Knight Island, where oil exposure and sea otter mortality in 1989 approached 0.90, no increase has been observed. Sea otter reproduction was not impaired and the age and sex structure of animals captured are consistent with both intrinsic reproduction and immigration contributing to recovery. However, low resighting rates of marked animals at Knight Island compared to an unoiled reference area, and a high proportion of young animals in beach cast carcasses through 1998, suggest that the lack of recovery was caused by relatively poor survival or emigration of potential recruits. Significantly higher levels of cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A), a biomarker of hydrocarbons, were found in sea otters at Knight Island, in 1996-98 compared to unoiled Montague Island, implicating oil effects in the lack of recovery at Knight Island. Delayed recovery does not appear to be directly related to food limitation. Although food availability was relatively low at both oiled and unoiled areas, we detected significant increases in sea otter abundance only at Montague Island, as finding inconsistent with food as a principal limiting factor. Persistent oil in habitats and prey provides a source of continued oil exposure and, combined with relatively low prey densities, suggests a potential interaction between oil and food. However, sea otters foraged more successfully at Knight Island and young females were in better condition than those at Montague Island. We conclude that progress toward recovery of sea otters in Prince William

  20. Density dependence and risk of extinction in a small population of sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gerber, L.R.; Buenau, K.E.; VanBlaricom, G.

    2004-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris (L.)) were hunted to extinction off the coast of Washington State early in the 20th century. A new population was established by translocations from Alaska in 1969 and 1970. The population, currently numbering at least 550 animals, A major threat to the population is the ongoing risk of majour oil spills in sea otter habitat. We apply population models to census and demographic data in order to evaluate the status of the population. We fit several density dependent models to test for density dependence and determine plausible values for the carrying capacity (K) by comparing model goodness of fit to an exponential model. Model fits were compared using Akaike Information Criterion (AIC). A significant negative relationship was found between the population growth rate and population size (r2=0.27, F=5.57, df=16, p<0.05), suggesting density dependence in Washington state sea otters. Information criterion statistics suggest that the model is the most parsimonious, followed closely by the logistic Beverton-Holt model. Values of K ranged from 612 to 759 with best-fit parameter estimates for the Beverton-Holt model including 0.26 for r and 612 for K. The latest (2001) population index count (555) puts the population at 87-92% of the estimated carrying capacity, above the suggested range for optimum sustainable population (OSP). Elasticity analysis was conducted to examine the effects of proportional changes in vital rates on the population growth rate (??). The elasticity values indicate the population is most sensitive to changes in survival rates (particularly adult survival).

  1. Phenotypic plasticity in age at first reproduction of female northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Von Biela, V.R.; Gill, V.A.; Bodkin, J.L.; Burns, Jennifer M.

    2009-01-01

    Life-history theory predicts that within a species, reproduction and survival rates will differ among populations that differ in resource availability or predation rates through phenotypic plasticity. When populations are near carrying capacity (K) or when they are declining due to reduced prey resources, the average age at 1st reproduction (average AFR) is predicted to be older than in populations below K. Differences between the trajectories of northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) populations in Alaska provides an opportunity to examine phenotypic plasticity. Using premolar teeth or reproductive tracts, we estimated average AFR from demographically distinct populations of sea otters in Alaska. We obtained samples from 2 populations near K, Prince William Sound (PWS) and the Aleutian Archipelago (archived samples), and from 2populations below K, the Kodiak Archipelago and Sitka. The average AFR was lower in populations below K (3.60 years ??0.16 SD)compared to those near K (4.21 ?? 0.13 years, P <0.001), and differed among all populations, with the Aleutian population possessing the oldest average AFR (4.29 ?? 0.09 years) followed by PWS (4.05 ?? 0.24 years), Sitka (3.80 ?? 0.21 years), and Kodiak (3.19 ?? 0.37 years). The difference in average AFR among populations supports life-history theory and provides evidence of phenotypic plasticity in sea otters. Our findings highlight the value of using average AFR as a tool for monitoring mammalian populations. ?? 2009 American Society of Mammalogists.

  2. Sea otter dental enamel is highly resistant to chipping due to its microstructure.

    PubMed

    Ziscovici, Charles; Lucas, Peter W; Constantino, Paul J; Bromage, Timothy G; van Casteren, Adam

    2014-10-01

    Dental enamel is prone to damage by chipping with large hard objects at forces that depend on chip size and enamel toughness. Experiments on modern human teeth have suggested that some ante-mortem chips on fossil hominin enamel were produced by bite forces near physiological maxima. Here, we show that equivalent chips in sea otter enamel require even higher forces than human enamel. Increased fracture resistance correlates with more intense enamel prism decussation, often seen also in some fossil hominins. It is possible therefore that enamel chips in such hominins may have formed at even greater forces than currently envisaged.

  3. Experimental recovery of sea otter carcasses at Kodiak Island, Alaska, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    DeGange, Anthony R.; Doroff, Angela M.; Monson, Daniel H.

    1994-01-01

    ound,  Alaska,  spilling  approximately  11  million  barrels  of  crude  oil.  Oil  wasdeposited  on  beaches  nearly  700  km  from  the  spill  site  (Galt  and  Payton  1990,Piatt  et  al.  1990),  affecting  thousands  of  hectares  of  sea  otter(Enhydra  lutris)habitat.  Two  of  the  principal  limitations  in  determining  the  initial  effects  of  theExxon  Valdez  oil  spill  on  sea  otter  populations  were  a  lack  of  recent  populationdata,  and  a  lack  of  information  on  the  proportion  of  the  total  number  of  seaotters  killed  by  the  spill  that  were  actually  recovered.ound,  Alaska,  spilling  approximately  11  million  barrels  of  crude  oil.  Oil  wasdeposited  on  beaches  nearly  700  km  from  the  spill  site  (Galt  and  Payton  1990,Piatt  et  al.  1990),  affecting  thousands  of  hectares  of  sea  otter(Enhydra  lutris)habitat.  Two  of  the  principal  limitations  in  determining  the  initial  effects  of  theExxon  Valdez  oil  spill  on  sea  otter  populations  were  a  lack  of  recent  populationdata,  and  a  lack  of  information  on  the  proportion  of  the  total  number  of  seaotters  killed  by  the  spill  that  were  actually  recovered.On 24 March 1989, the T/V Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling approximately 11 million barrels of crude oil. Oil was deposited on beaches nearly 700 km from the spill site (Galt and Payton 1990, Piatt et al. 1990), affecting thousands of hectares of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) habitat. Two of the principal limitations in determining the initial effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on sea otter populations were a lack of recent population data, and a lack of information on the proportion of the total number of sea otters killed by the spill that were actually recovered.In late

  4. Sea otter dental enamel is highly resistant to chipping due to its microstructure

    PubMed Central

    Ziscovici, Charles; Lucas, Peter W.; Constantino, Paul J.; Bromage, Timothy G.; van Casteren, Adam

    2014-01-01

    Dental enamel is prone to damage by chipping with large hard objects at forces that depend on chip size and enamel toughness. Experiments on modern human teeth have suggested that some ante-mortem chips on fossil hominin enamel were produced by bite forces near physiological maxima. Here, we show that equivalent chips in sea otter enamel require even higher forces than human enamel. Increased fracture resistance correlates with more intense enamel prism decussation, often seen also in some fossil hominins. It is possible therefore that enamel chips in such hominins may have formed at even greater forces than currently envisaged. PMID:25319817

  5. Flow-cytometric determination of genotoxic effects of exposure to petroleum in mink and sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bickham, J.W.; Mazet, J.A.; Blake, J.; Smolen, M.J.; Lou, Y.; Ballachey, B.E.

    1998-01-01

    Three experiments were conducted to investigate the genotoxic effects of crude oil on mink and sea otters, In the first experiment, the effects on mink of chronic exposure to weathered Prudhoe Bay crude oil were studied, Female mink were fed a diet that included weathered crude oil for a period of 3 weeks prior to mating, during pregnancy and until weaning. Kits were exposed through lactation and by diet after weaning until 4 months of age. Kidney and liver tissues of the kits were examined using flow cytometry (FCM) and it was found that the genome size was increased in kidney samples from the experimental group compared to the control group. This effect was probably due to some type of DNA amplification and it could have been inherited from the exposed mothers or have been a somatic response to oil exposure in the pups, No evidence of clastogenic effects, as measured by the coefficient of variation (CV) of the G(1) peak, was found in kidney or liver tissue. In the second experiment, yearling female mink were exposed either by diet or externally to crude oil or bunker C fuel oil. Evidence for clastogenic damage was found in spleen tissue for the exposure groups, but not in kidney tissue. No evidence of increased genome size was observed. In the third experiment, blood was obtained from wild-caught sea otters in Prince William Sound. The sea otters represented two populations: one from western Prince William Sound that was potentially exposed to oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill and a reference population from eastern Prince William Sound that did not receive oil from the spill. The spill had occurred 1.5 years prior to obtaining the blood samples. Although the mean CVs did not differ between the populations, the exposed population had a significantly higher variance of CV measurements and five out of 15 animals from the exposed population had CVs higher than the 95% confidence limits of the reference population, It is concluded that FCM is a sensitive indicator

  6. Could residual oil from the Exxon Valdez spill create a long-term population "sink" for sea otters in Alaska?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Monson, D.H.; Doak, D.F.; Ballachey, B.E.; Bodkin, J.L.

    2011-01-01

    Over 20 years ago, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled 42 million L of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA. At the time of the spill, the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population inhabiting the spill area suffered substantial acute injuries and loss. Subsequent research has resulted in one of the best-studied species responses to an oil spill in history. However, the question remains: Is the spill still influencing the Prince William Sound sea otter population? Here we fit time-varying population models to data for the sea otter population of western Prince William Sound to quantify the duration and extent of mortality effects from the spill. We hypothesize that the patchy nature of residual oil left in the environment has created a source-sink population dynamic. We fit models using the age distributions of both living and dying animals and estimates of sea otter population size to predict the number of sea otters in the hypothesized sink population and the number lost to this sink due to chronic exposure to residual oil. Our results suggest that the sink population has remained at just over 900 individuals (95% CI: 606-960) between 1990 and 2009, during which time prime-age survival remained 2-6% below pre-spill levels. This reduced survival led to chronic losses of ???900 animals over the past two decades, which is similar in magnitude to the number of sea otter deaths documented in western Prince William Sound during the acute phase of the spill. However, the unaffected source population appears to be counterbalancing these losses, with the model indicating that the sea otter population increased from ???2150 individuals in 1990 to nearly 3000 in 2009. The most optimistic interpretation of our results suggests that mortality effects dissipated between 2005 and 2007. Our results suggest that residual oil can affect wildlife populations on time scales much longer than previously believed and that cumulative chronic effects can be as

  7. Estimating age of sea otters with cementum layers in the first premolar

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Ames, J.A.; Jameson, R.J.; Johnson, A.M.; Matson, G.M.

    1997-01-01

    We assessed sources of variation in the use of tooth cementum layers to determine age by comparing counts in premolar tooth sections to known ages of 20 sea otters (Enhydra lutris). Three readers examined each sample 3 times, and the 3 readings of each sample were averaged by reader to provide the mean estimated age. The mean (SE) of known age sample was 5.2 years (1.0) and the 3 mean estimated ages were 7.0 (1.0), 5.9 (1.1) and, 4.4 (0.8). The proportion of estimates accurate to within +/- 1 year were 0.25, 0.55, and 0.65 and to within +/- 2 years 0.65, 0.80, and 0.70, by reader. The proportions of samples estimated with >3 years error were 0.20, 0.10, and 0.05. Errors as large as 7, 6, and 5 years were made among readers. In few instances did all readers uniformly provide either accurate (error 1 yr) counts. In most cases (0.85), 1 or 2 of the readers provided accurate counts. Coefficients of determination (R2) between known ages and mean estimated ages were 0.81, 0.87, and 0.87, by reader. The results of this study suggest that cementum layers within sea otter premolar teeth likely are deposited annually and can be used for age estimation. However, criteria used in interpreting layers apparently varied by reader, occasionally resulting in large errors, which were not consistent among readers. While large errors were evident for some individual otters, there were no differences between the known and estimated age-class distribution generated by each reader. Until accuracy can be improved, application of this ageing technique should be limited to sample sizes of at least 6-7 individuals within age classes of >/=1 year.

  8. Histopathologic lesions associated with crude oil exposure in sea otters. Marine mammal study 6-10. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resources damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Lipscomb, T.P.; Harris, R.K.; Moeller, R.B.; Pletcher, J.M.; Haebler, R.J.

    1996-06-01

    Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) that appeared oiled, were in danger of becoming oiled, or were behaving abnormally were captured and taken to rehabilitation centers. Oil exposure was assessed by visual examination on arrival at the centers. Tissues from 51 oiled sea otters and from 6 unoiled sea otters that died in rehabilitation centers were examined histologically. Histologic examinations were performed on tissues from 5 sea otters found dead with external oil present shortly after the spill. Necropsies were performed on 214 sea otters that had been collected and frozen in the period following the oil spill. Tissues from 6 apparently normal sea otters collected from an area not affected by the oil spill were examined histologically, and none of these lesions were found. We conclude that pulmonary interstitial emphysema, gastric erosion and hemorrhage, centrilobular hepatic necrosis, and hepatic and renal lipidosis were associated with exposure to crude oil in sea otters.

  9. Assessment of clinical pathology and pathogen exposure in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) bordering the threatened population in Alaska.

    PubMed

    Goldstein, Tracey; Gill, Verena A; Tuomi, Pam; Monson, Daniel; Burdin, Alexander; Conrad, Patricia A; Dunn, J Lawrence; Field, Cara; Johnson, Christine; Jessup, David A; Bodkin, James; Doroff, Angela M

    2011-07-01

    Northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) abundance has decreased dramatically over portions of southwest Alaska, USA, since the mid-1980s, and this stock is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In contrast, adjacent populations in south central Alaska, USA, and Russia have been stable to increasing during the same period. Sea otters bordering the area classified in the recent decline were live-captured during 2004-2006 at Bering Island, Russia, and the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska, USA, to evaluate differences in general health and current exposure status to marine and terrestrial pathogens. Although body condition was lower in animals captured at Bering Island, Russia, than it was at Kodiak, USA, clinical pathology values did not reveal differences in general health between the two regions. Low prevalences of antibodies (<5%) were found in Kodiak, USA, and on Bering Island, Russia, to Toxoplasma gondii, Sarcocystis neurona, and Leptospira interrogans. Exposure to phocine herpesvirus-1 was found in both Kodiak, USA (15.2%), and Bering Island, Russia (2.3%). Antibodies to Brucella spp. were found in 28% of the otters tested on Bering Island, Russia, compared with only 2.7% of the samples from Kodiak, USA. Prevalence of exposure to Phocine distemper virus (PDV) was 41% in Kodiak, USA, but 0% on Bering Island, Russia. Archived sera from southwest and south-central Alaska dating back to 1989 were negative for PDV, indicating exposure occurred in sea otters in Kodiak, USA, in recent years. Because PDV can be highly pathogenic in naïve and susceptible marine mammal populations, tissues should be examined to explore the contribution of this virus to otter deaths. Our results reveal an increase in exposure to pathogens in sea otters in Kodiak, Alaska, USA, since the 1990 s.

  10. Assessment of clinical pathology and pathogen exposure in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) bordering the threatened population in Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Goldstein, T.; Gill, V.A.; Tuomi, Pamela A.; Monson, D.; Burdin, A.; Conrad, P.A.; Dunn, J.L.; Field, C.; Johnson, Chad; Jessup, David A.; Bodkin, J.; Doroff, A.M.

    2011-01-01

    Northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) abundance has decreased dramatically over portions of southwest Alaska, USA, since the mid-1980s, and this stock is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In contrast, adjacent populations in south central Alaska, USA, and Russia have been stable to increasing during the same period. Sea otters bordering the area classified in the recent decline were live-captured during 2004–2006 at Bering Island, Russia, and the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska, USA, to evaluate differences in general health and current exposure status to marine and terrestrial pathogens. Although body condition was lower in animals captured at Bering Island, Russia, than it was at Kodiak, USA, clinical pathology values did not reveal differences in general health between the two regions. Low prevalences of antibodies (>5%) were found in Kodiak, USA, and on Bering Island, Russia, to Toxoplasma gondii, Sarcocystis neurona, and Leptospira interrogans. Exposure to phocine herpesvirus-1 was found in both Kodiak, USA (15.2%), and Bering Island, Russia (2.3%). Antibodies to Brucella spp. were found in 28% of the otters tested on Bering Island, Russia, compared with only 2.7% of the samples from Kodiak, USA. Prevalence of exposure to Phocine distemper virus (PDV) was 41% in Kodiak, USA, but 0% on Bering Island, Russia. Archived sera from southwest and south-central Alaska dating back to 1989 were negative for PDV, indicating exposure occurred in sea otters in Kodiak, USA, in recent years. Because PDV can be highly pathogenic in naïve and susceptible marine mammal populations, tissues should be examined to explore the contribution of this virus to otter deaths. Our results reveal an increase in exposure to pathogens in sea otters in Kodiak, Alaska, USA, since the 1990s.

  11. Ganglion cells density and retinal resolution in the sea otter, Enhydra lutris.

    PubMed

    Mass, A M; Supin, A Y

    2000-03-01

    The topographic distribution, density, and size of ganglion cells were studied in retinal wholemounts of the sea otter, Enhydra lutris. The cell distribution showed a well defined horizontal streak of higher cell density, and within this streak, a narrow area of the highest cell density. The peak cell density in this area ranged from 4050 to 4400 cells/mm(2), with a mean of 4225 cells/mm(2). The ganglion cell size ranged from 7 microm to 47 microm but the majority of cells were 7 to 30 microm. Cell size distribution revealed three size groups: 7-16, 17-28, and 29-47 microm. The highest-density area contained mainly small (7-16 microm) cells. The cell-density data predict a retinal resolution around 7' in water. Retinal organization in the sea otter exhibits more properties common with terrestrial rather than aquatic mammals, both in terms of ganglion cell characteristics and in terms of their topographic distribution.

  12. Osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Arzi, B; Winer, J N; Kass, P H; Verstraete, F J M

    2013-11-01

    Museum skull specimens (n = 1,008) of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were examined macroscopically according to defined criteria for the presence, severity and characteristics of temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis (TMJ-OA). The specimens were from stranded young adult to adult animals. Overall, 4.1% of the specimens had findings consistent with TMJ-OA. Of these, 61.0% were from females and 39.0% were from males. In addition, 85.4% of the affected specimens were from adults and 14.6% were from young adults. However, there was no significant association between age and sex with the presence or severity of TMJ-OA. Lesion severity was mild in 41.5%, moderate in 19.5% and severe in 39.0% of affected specimens. The most prominent changes were the presence of osteophytes and subchondral bone defects and porosity. The mandibular condylar process and fossa were affected equally. The lengths of the right and left mandibular heads were significantly associated with age (P = 0.002 and P = 0.003, respectively) and sex (P = 0.0009 and P = 0.001, respectively), but not with the presence of TMJ-OA. The significance of this disease in sea otters remains elusive, but this condition may play an important role in survival of these animals.

  13. Incorporating diverse data and realistic complexity into demographic estimation procedures for sea otters.

    PubMed

    Tinker, M Tim; Doak, Daniel F; Estes, James A; Hatfield, Brian B; Staedler, Michelle M; Bodkin, James L

    2006-12-01

    Reliable information on historical and current population dynamics is central to understanding patterns of growth and decline in animal populations. We developed a maximum likelihood-based analysis to estimate spatial and temporal trends in age/sex-specific survival rates for the threatened southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), using annual population censuses and the age structure of salvaged carcass collections. We evaluated a wide range of possible spatial and temporal effects and used model averaging to incorporate model uncertainty into the resulting estimates of key vital rates and their variances. We compared these results to current demographic parameters estimated in a telemetry-based study conducted between 2001 and 2004. These results show that survival has decreased substantially from the early 1990s to the present and is generally lowest in the north-central portion of the population's range. The greatest temporal decrease in survival was for adult females, and variation in the survival of this age/sex class is primarily responsible for regulating population growth and driving population trends. Our results can be used to focus future research on southern sea otters by highlighting the life history stages and mortality factors most relevant to conservation. More broadly, we have illustrated how the powerful and relatively straightforward tools of information-theoretic-based model fitting can be used to sort through and parameterize quite complex demographic modeling frameworks.

  14. Incorporating diverse data and realistic complexity into demographic estimation procedures for sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M. Timothy; Doak, Daniel F.; Estes, James A.; Hatfield, Brian B.; Staedler, Michelle M.; Bodkin, James L

    2006-01-01

    Reliable information on historical and current population dynamics is central to understanding patterns of growth and decline in animal populations. We developed a maximum likelihood-based analysis to estimate spatial and temporal trends in age/sex-specific survival rates for the threatened southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), using annual population censuses and the age structure of salvaged carcass collections. We evaluated a wide range of possible spatial and temporal effects and used model averaging to incorporate model uncertainty into the resulting estimates of key vital rates and their variances. We compared these results to current demographic parameters estimated in a telemetry-based study conducted between 2001 and 2004. These results show that survival has decreased substantially from the early 1990s to the present and is generally lowest in the north-central portion of the population's range. The greatest temporal decrease in survival was for adult females, and variation in the survival of this age/sex class is primarily responsible for regulating population growth and driving population trends. Our results can be used to focus future research on southern sea otters by highlighting the life history stages and mortality factors most relevant to conservation. More broadly, we have illustrated how the powerful and relatively straightforward tools of information-theoretic-based model fitting can be used to sort through and parameterize quite complex demographic modeling frameworks. ?? 2006 by the Ecological Society of America.

  15. Pathogenesis of Streptococcus infantarius subspecies coli Isolated from Sea Otters with Infective Endocarditis.

    PubMed

    Counihan, Katrina L; Gill, Verena A; Miller, Melissa A; Burek-Huntington, Kathleen A; LeFebvre, Rance B; Byrne, Barbara A

    2015-06-01

    The Gram positive bacterial coccus Streptococcus infantarius subspecies coli is increasingly linked with development of fatal vegetative infective endocarditis and septicemia in humans, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and other animals. However, the pathogenesis of these infections is poorly understood. Using S. infantarius subsp. coli strains isolated from sea otters with infective endocarditis, this study evaluated adherence and invasion of epithelial and endothelial cells, adherence to extracellular matrix components, and macrophage survival. Significant adherence to endothelial-derived cells was observed for 62% of isolates, 24% adhered to epithelial cell lines, and 95% invaded one or both cell types in vitro. The importance of the hyaluronic acid capsule in host cell adherence and invasion was also evaluated. Capsule removal significantly reduced epithelial adherence and invasion for most S. infantarius subsp. coli isolates, suggesting that the capsule facilitates attachment to and invasion of epithelium. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay testing revealed that all isolates adhered significantly to the extracellular matrix components collagen IV, fibronectin, laminin and hyaluronic acid. Finally, significant bacterial survival following phagocytosis by macrophages was apparent for 81% of isolates at one or more time points. Taken collectively these findings indicate that S. infantarius subsp. coli has multiple pathogenic properties that may be important to host colonization, invasion and disease.

  16. Analysis of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) reproductive tract: A methods manual

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    von Biela, Vanessa R.; Gill, Verena A.

    2007-01-01

    Sea otter reproductive tracts have most commonly come from either intentional sampling through harvests (Sinah et al. 1966, Schneider 1975) or unintentional large scale mortalities (e.g. the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill) (Bodkin et al. 1993). Carcasses and reproductive tracts can also be obtained through the collection of fresh beach cast carcasses. Analysis of reproductive tracts should consider the source of carcasses as samples representing either the “living” or “dead” sea otter population, as they may differ in reproductive parameters. In most cases the reproductive tracts are fixed in formalin or frozen (minimum of –20˚C) immediately after collection; both methods are acceptable for later analysis of the tissue. Immediate fixation is preferred as it is a necessary step in analysis. Uteri and ovaries are then examined to determine the current and past reproductive history of each individual. This manual also includes an example datasheet (Appendix A) and glossary (Appendix B). 

  17. A Quantitative Ecological Risk Assessment of the Toxicological Risks from Exxon Valdez Subsurface Oil Residues to Sea Otters at Northern Knight Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska.

    PubMed

    Harwell, Mark A; Gentile, John H; Johnson, Charles B; Garshelis, David L; Parker, Keith R

    2010-07-01

    A comprehensive, quantitative risk assessment is presented of the toxicological risks from buried Exxon Valdez subsurface oil residues (SSOR) to a subpopulation of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) at Northern Knight Island (NKI) in Prince William Sound, Alaska, as it has been asserted that this subpopulation of sea otters may be experiencing adverse effects from the SSOR. The central questions in this study are: could the risk to NKI sea otters from exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in SSOR, as characterized in 2001-2003, result in individual health effects, and, if so, could that exposure cause subpopulation-level effects? We follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) risk paradigm by: (a) identifying potential routes of exposure to PAHs from SSOR; (b) developing a quantitative simulation model of exposures using the best available scientific information; (c) developing scenarios based on calculated probabilities of sea otter exposures to SSOR; (d) simulating exposures for 500,000 modeled sea otters and extracting the 99.9% quantile most highly exposed individuals; and (e) comparing projected exposures to chronic toxicity reference values. Results indicate that, even under conservative assumptions in the model, maximum-exposed sea otters would not receive a dose of PAHs sufficient to cause any health effects; consequently, no plausible toxicological risk exists from SSOR to the sea otter subpopulation at NKI.

  18. A Quantitative Ecological Risk Assessment of the Toxicological Risks from Exxon Valdez Subsurface Oil Residues to Sea Otters at Northern Knight Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska

    PubMed Central

    Harwell, Mark A.; Gentile, John H.; Johnson, Charles B.; Garshelis, David L.; Parker, Keith R.

    2010-01-01

    A comprehensive, quantitative risk assessment is presented of the toxicological risks from buried Exxon Valdez subsurface oil residues (SSOR) to a subpopulation of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) at Northern Knight Island (NKI) in Prince William Sound, Alaska, as it has been asserted that this subpopulation of sea otters may be experiencing adverse effects from the SSOR. The central questions in this study are: could the risk to NKI sea otters from exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in SSOR, as characterized in 2001–2003, result in individual health effects, and, if so, could that exposure cause subpopulation-level effects? We follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) risk paradigm by: (a) identifying potential routes of exposure to PAHs from SSOR; (b) developing a quantitative simulation model of exposures using the best available scientific information; (c) developing scenarios based on calculated probabilities of sea otter exposures to SSOR; (d) simulating exposures for 500,000 modeled sea otters and extracting the 99.9% quantile most highly exposed individuals; and (e) comparing projected exposures to chronic toxicity reference values. Results indicate that, even under conservative assumptions in the model, maximum-exposed sea otters would not receive a dose of PAHs sufficient to cause any health effects; consequently, no plausible toxicological risk exists from SSOR to the sea otter subpopulation at NKI. PMID:20862194

  19. Pathogen exposure and blood chemistry in the Washington, USA population of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni).

    PubMed

    White, C LeAnn; Schuler, Krysten L; Thomas, Nancy J; Webb, Julie L; Saliki, Jeremiah T; Ip, Hon S; Dubey, J P; Frame, Elizabeth R

    2013-10-01

    Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from Washington State, United States were evaluated in 2011 to determine health status and pathogen exposure. Antibodies to Brucella spp. (10%) and influenza A virus (23%) were detected for the first time in this population in 2011. Changes in clinical pathology values (serum chemistries), exposure to pathogens, and overall health of the population over the last decade were assessed by comparing 2011 data to the data collected on this population in 2001-2002. Several serum chemistry parameters were different between study years and sexes but were not clinically significant. The odds of canine distemper virus exposure were higher for otters sampled in 2001-2002 (80%) compared to 2011 (10%); likelihood of exposure significantly increased with age. Prevalence of exposure to Sarcocystis neurona was also higher in 2001-2002 (29%) than in 2011 (0%), but because testing methods varied between study years the results were not directly comparable. Exposure to Leptospira spp. was only observed in 2001-2002. Odds of Toxoplasma gondii exposure were higher for otters sampled in 2011 (97%) than otters in 2001-2002 (58%). Substantial levels of domoic acid (n = 2) and saxitoxin (n = 2) were found in urine or fecal samples from animals sampled in 2011. No evidence of calicivirus or Coxiella burnetii exposure in the Washington population of northern sea otters was found in either 2001-2002 or 2011. Changes in exposure status from 2001-2002 to 2011 suggest that the Washington sea otter population may be dealing with new disease threats (e.g., influenza) while also increasing their susceptibility to diseases that may be highly pathogenic in naïve individuals (e.g., canine distemper).

  20. Structure and mechanism of diet specialisation: testing models of individual variation in resource use with sea otters.

    PubMed

    Tim Tinker, M; Guimarães, Paulo R; Novak, Mark; Marquitti, Flavia Maria Darcie; Bodkin, James L; Staedler, Michelle; Bentall, Gena; Estes, James A

    2012-05-01

    Studies of consumer-resource interactions suggest that individual diet specialisation is empirically widespread and theoretically important to the organisation and dynamics of populations and communities. We used weighted networks to analyze the resource use by sea otters, testing three alternative models for how individual diet specialisation may arise. As expected, individual specialisation was absent when otter density was low, but increased at high-otter density. A high-density emergence of nested resource-use networks was consistent with the model assuming individuals share preference ranks. However, a density-dependent emergence of a non-nested modular network for 'core' resources was more consistent with the 'competitive refuge' model. Individuals from different diet modules showed predictable variation in rank-order prey preferences and handling times of core resources, further supporting the competitive refuge model. Our findings support a hierarchical organisation of diet specialisation and suggest individual use of core and marginal resources may be driven by different selective pressures.

  1. A unique feeding strategy of the extinct marine mammal Kolponomos: convergence on sabretooths and sea otters.

    PubMed

    Tseng, Z Jack; Grohé, Camille; Flynn, John J

    2016-03-16

    Mammalian molluscivores feed mainly by shell-crushing or suction-feeding. The extinct marine arctoid, Kolponomos, has been interpreted as an otter-like shell-crusher based on similar dentitions. However, neither the masticatory biomechanics of the shell-crushing adaptation nor the way Kolponomos may have captured hard-shelled prey have been tested. Based on mandibular symphyseal morphology shared by Kolponomos and sabre-toothed carnivores, we hypothesize a sabretooth-like mechanism for Kolponomos prey-capture, whereby the mandible functioned as an anchor. Torque generated from jaw closure and head flexion was used to dislodge prey by prying, with prey then crushed using cheek teeth. We test this hypothesized feeding sequence using phylogenetically informed biomechanical simulations and shape analyses, and find a strongly supported, shared high mandibular stiffness in simulated prey-capture bites and mandibular shape in Kolponomos and the sabre-toothed cat Smilodon. These two distantly related taxa converged on using mandibles to anchor cranial torqueing forces when prying substrate-bound prey in the former and sabre-driving forces during prey-killing in the latter. Simulated prey-crushing bites indicate that Kolponomos and sea otters exhibit alternative structural stiffness-bite efficiency combinations in mandibular biomechanical adaptation for shell-crushing. This unique feeding system of Kolponomos exemplifies a mosaic of form-function convergence relative to other Carnivora.

  2. A unique feeding strategy of the extinct marine mammal Kolponomos: convergence on sabretooths and sea otters

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    Mammalian molluscivores feed mainly by shell-crushing or suction-feeding. The extinct marine arctoid, Kolponomos, has been interpreted as an otter-like shell-crusher based on similar dentitions. However, neither the masticatory biomechanics of the shell-crushing adaptation nor the way Kolponomos may have captured hard-shelled prey have been tested. Based on mandibular symphyseal morphology shared by Kolponomos and sabre-toothed carnivores, we hypothesize a sabretooth-like mechanism for Kolponomos prey-capture, whereby the mandible functioned as an anchor. Torque generated from jaw closure and head flexion was used to dislodge prey by prying, with prey then crushed using cheek teeth. We test this hypothesized feeding sequence using phylogenetically informed biomechanical simulations and shape analyses, and find a strongly supported, shared high mandibular stiffness in simulated prey-capture bites and mandibular shape in Kolponomos and the sabre-toothed cat Smilodon. These two distantly related taxa converged on using mandibles to anchor cranial torqueing forces when prying substrate-bound prey in the former and sabre-driving forces during prey-killing in the latter. Simulated prey-crushing bites indicate that Kolponomos and sea otters exhibit alternative structural stiffness-bite efficiency combinations in mandibular biomechanical adaptation for shell-crushing. This unique feeding system of Kolponomos exemplifies a mosaic of form-function convergence relative to other Carnivora. PMID:26936242

  3. Population model for sea otters in western Prince William sound. Restoration project 93043-3. Sea otter demographics. Exxon Valdez oil spill restoration project final report

    SciTech Connect

    Udevitz, M.S.; Ballachey, B.E.; Bruden, D.L.

    1996-05-01

    A large portion of the western Prince William Sound (PWS) sea otter population was killed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in March 1989, but little is known about the dynamics of the population before the spill in March 1989, or the rate at which the population can be expected to recover. We estimated age-specific reproductive and survival rates for the western PWS population before the spill based on examinations or reproductive tracts and the age structure of carcasses collected in 1989. We developed a new technique for estimating survival rates that uses age-structure and age-at-death data, and does not require the assumption of a stable age structure. Because of the lack of data for estimating juvenile survival rates, were considered a series of 4 potential scenarios. The population was projected to decrease slightly during the first year under all of the scenarios and then begin increasing, achieving maximum rates of increase ranging from 10% to 14% per year and recovering to its estimated 1985 population size in 10 to 23 years. Projected population sizes during the first few years after the spill are in broad agreement with estimates based on boat surveys in 1990, 1991, and 1993.

  4. Pathological studies of sea otters. Marine mammal study 6-11. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Lipscomb, T.P.; Harris, R.K.; Rebar, A.H.; Ballachey, B.E.; Haebler, R.J.

    1996-06-01

    Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, sea otters were captured and taken to rehabilitaion centers. Oil exposure was assessed by visual examination on arrival at the centers. Records of 21 oiled otters that died within 10 days of arrival at the centers were reviewed to define the laboratory abnormalities and clinical syndromes associated with these deaths. Tissues from 51 oiled and 6 unoiled sea otters that died in the centers were examined histologically. Histologic examinations were performed on tissues from 5 oiled otters found dead shortly after the spill. Nucropsies were performed on 214 sea otters that were collected and frozen following the oil spill. Pulmonary interstitial emphysema and gastric erosion and hemorrhage were common in oiled animals, and were less frequent in unoiled animals. Tissues from 6 sea otters collected from a nonoiled area were examined, and none of these lesions were found. We conclude that pulmonary interstitial emphysema, gastric erosion and hemorrhage, centrilobular hepatic necrosis, and hepatic and renal lipidosis were associated with exposure to crude oil in sea otters.

  5. Epidemiology and potential land-sea transfer of enteric bacteria from terrestrial to marine species in the Monterey Bay Region of California.

    PubMed

    Oates, Stori C; Miller, Melissa A; Byrne, Barbara A; Chouicha, Nadira; Hardin, Dane; Jessup, David; Dominik, Clare; Roug, Annette; Schriewer, Alexander; Jang, Spencer S; Miller, Woutrina A

    2012-07-01

    Marine mammals are at risk for infection by fecal-associated zoonotic pathogens when they swim and feed in polluted nearshore marine waters. Because of their tendency to consume 25-30% of their body weight per day in coastal filter-feeding invertebrates, southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) can act as sentinels of marine ecosystem health in California. Feces from domestic and wildlife species were tested to determine prevalence, potential virulence, and diversity of selected opportunistic enteric bacterial pathogens in the Monterey Bay region. We hypothesized that if sea otters are sentinels of coastal health, and fecal pollution flows from land to sea, then sea otters and terrestrial animals might share the same enteric bacterial species and strains. Twenty-eight percent of fecal samples tested during 2007-2010 were positive for one or more potential pathogens. Campylobacter spp. were isolated most frequently, with an overall prevalence of 11%, followed by Vibrio cholerae (9%), Salmonella spp. (6%), V. parahaemolyticus (5%), and V. alginolyticus (3%). Sea otters were found positive for all target bacteria, exhibiting similar prevalences for Campylobacter and Salmonella spp. but greater prevalences for Vibrio spp. when compared to terrestrial animals. Fifteen Salmonella serotypes were detected, 11 of which were isolated from opossums. This is the first report of sea otter infection by S. enterica Heidelberg, a serotype also associated with human clinical disease. Similar strains of S. enterica Typhimurium were identified in otters, opossums, and gulls, suggesting the possibility of land-sea transfer of enteric bacterial pathogens from terrestrial sources to sea otters.

  6. Pharmacokinetic indices for cefovecin after single-dose administration to adult sea otters (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Lee, E A; Byrne, B A; Young, M A; Murray, M; Miller, M A; Tell, L A

    2016-12-01

    Seven sea otters received a single subcutaneous dose of cefovecin at 8 mg/kg body weight. Plasma samples were collected at predetermined time points and assayed for total cefovecin concentrations using ultra-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. The mean (±SD) noncompartmental pharmacokinetic indices were as follows: CMax (obs) 70.6 ± 14.6 μg/mL, TMax (obs) 2.9 ± 1.5 h, elimination rate constant (kel ) 0.017 ± 0.002/h, elimination half-life (t1/2kel) 41.6 ± 4.7 h, area under the plasma concentration-vs.-time curve to last sample (AUClast) 3438.7 ± 437.7 h·μg/mL and AUC extrapolated to infinity (AUC0→∞ ) 3447.8 ± 439.0 h·μg/mL. The minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) for select isolates were determined and used to suggest possible dosing intervals of 10 days, 5 days, and 2.5 days for gram-positive, gram-negative, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacterial species, respectively. This study found a single subcutaneous dose of cefovecin sodium in sea otters to be clinically safe and a viable option for long-acting antimicrobial therapy.

  7. Sea otter abundance, distribution, and pup production in Prince William Sound following the Exxon Valdez oil spill

    SciTech Connect

    Johnson, C.B.; Garshelis, D.L.

    1995-12-31

    The authors investigated effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill on the abundance, distribution, and pup production of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in prince William Sound (PWS) by comparing counts made during 1990 and 1991 with counts made by researchers 5--12 years before the spill. The authors observed no evidence of avoidance or attraction to spill-affected shorelines 1--2 years after the spill. Despite a substantial loss of sea otters immediately following the spill, the authors counted fewer otters than prespill investigators at only one of three heavily oiled islands, and from 1990 to 1991 the counts at this one site increased to a level equivalent to the latest (1985) prespill count. The authors followed the methods of prespill investigators and found close agreement between the counts of otters and those of two other concurrent investigations using the same survey technique. This agreement among counts, and the involvement in counts made prespill, suggested that inter-observer variability could not explain the unexpected high counts at oiled sites. 52 refs., 18 figs., 5 tabs.

  8. Ontogeny of Oxygen Storage Capacity and Diving Ability in the Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis): Costs and Benefits of Large Lungs.

    PubMed

    Thometz, Nicole M; Murray, Michael J; Williams, Terrie M

    2015-01-01

    Small body size, large lungs, and dense pelage contribute to the unique challenges faced by diving sea otters (Enhydra lutris) when compared to other marine mammals. Here we determine the consequences of large lungs on the development of diving ability in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) by examining the ontogeny of blood, muscle, and lung oxygen stores and calculating aerobic dive limits (cADL) for immature and mature age classes. Total oxygen storage capacity matures rapidly in sea otters, reaching adult levels by 2 mo postpartum. But this result is driven by exceptional lung capacity at birth, followed by a decrease in mass-specific lung volume with age. Blood and muscle oxygen stores remain well below adult values before weaning, with large pups exhibiting 74% and 54% of adult values, respectively. Slow muscle development limits the capacity of immature sea otters to dive against high positive buoyancy due to comparatively large lungs. Immature sea otters diving with total lung capacity (TLC) experience up to twice the mass-specific positive buoyancy as adults diving with TLC but can reduce these forces to comparable adult levels by using a smaller diving lung volume (DLV). The cADL of a juvenile with DLV is 3.62 min, while the cADL of an adult with TLC is 4.82 min. We find that the magnitude of positive buoyancy experienced by sea otters changes markedly with age and strongly influences the ontogeny of diving ability in this species.

  9. Gene sequences for cytochromes p450 1A1 and 1A2: the need for biomarker development in sea otters (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Hook, Sharon E; Cobb, Michael E; Oris, James T; Anderson, Jack W

    2008-11-01

    There has been recent public concern regarding the impacts of environmental pollution on populations of otters. Population level impacts have been seen with otter (Lutra lutra) populations in Europe due to polychlorinated biphenyls, and with some segments of the Prince William Sound, AK, sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Despite public interest in these animals and their ecological significance, there are few tools that allow for the study of otter's response to contaminant exposure. Cytochrome p450 1A (CYP1A) performs the first step in metabolizing many xenobiotics, including many polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. CYP1A induction is a frequently used biomarker of exposure to these compounds. Despite the potential importance of this gene in ecological risk assessment, the complete coding sequence has not been published for any otter species. This study's objective was to isolate the gene for CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 in sea otters using a series of PCR-based approaches. The coding sequences from CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 from sea otters were identified and published in GenBank. Both CYP1A sequences are homologous to those obtained from marine mammals and other carnivores. These sequences will be useful as tools for researchers assessing contaminant exposure in mustelid populations.

  10. Trial aerial survey of sea otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1993. Restoration project 93043-2. Exxon Valdez oil spill restoration project final report

    SciTech Connect

    Bodkin, J.L.; Udevitz, M.S.

    1996-05-01

    We developed an aerial survey method for sea otters, using a strip transect design where otters observed in a strip along one side of the aircraft are counted. Two strata are sampled, one lies close to shore and/or in shallow. The other strata lies offshore and over deeper water. We estimate the proportion of otters not seen by the observer by conducting intensive searches of units (ISU`s) within strips when otters are observed. The first study found no significant differences in sea otter detection probabilities between ISU`s initiated by the sighting of an otter group compared to systematically located ISU`s. The second study consisted of a trial survey of all of Prince William Sound, excluding Orca Inlet. The survey area consisted of 5,017 sq km of water between the shore line and an offshore boundary based on shoreline physiography, the 100 m depth contour or a distance of 2 km from the shore. From 5-13 August 1993, two observers surveyed 1,023 linear km of high density sea otter habitat and 355 linear km of low density habitat.

  11. Detection and characterization of diverse coccidian protozoa shed by California sea lions

    PubMed Central

    Girard, Yvette A.; Johnson, Christine K.; Fritz, Heather M.; Shapiro, Karen; Packham, Andrea E.; Melli, Ann C.; Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Gulland, Frances M.; Rejmanek, Daniel; Conrad, Patricia A.

    2015-01-01

    Tissue-cyst forming coccidia in the family Sarcocystidae are etiologic agents of protozoal encephalitis in marine mammals including the federally listed Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris). California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), whose coastal habitat overlaps with sea otters, are definitive hosts for coccidian protozoa provisionally named Coccidia A, B and C. While Coccidia A and B have unknown clinical effects on aquatic wildlife hosts, Coccidia C is associated with severe protozoal disease in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). In this study, we conducted surveillance for protozoal infection and fecal shedding in hospitalized and free-ranging California sea lions on the Pacific Coast and examined oocyst morphology and phenotypic characteristics of isolates via mouse bioassay and cell culture. Coccidia A and B were shed in similar frequency, particularly by yearlings. Oocysts shed by one free-ranging sea lion sampled at Año Nuevo State Park in California were previously unidentified in sea lions and were most similar to coccidia infecting Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi) diagnosed with protozoal disease in Oregon (USA). Sporulated Coccidia A and B oocysts did not replicate in three strains of mice or in African green monkey kidney cells. However, cultivation experiments revealed that the inoculum of fecally-derived Coccidia A and B oocysts additionally contained organisms with genetic and antigenic similarity to Sarcocystis neurona; despite the absence of detectable free sporocysts in fecal samples by microscopic examination. In addition to the further characterization of Coccidia A and B in free-ranging and hospitalized sea lions, these results provide evidence of a new role for sea lions as putative mechanical vectors of S. neurona, or S. neurona-like species. Future work is needed to clarify the distribution, taxonomical status, and pathogenesis of these parasites in sea lions and other marine mammals that share their the near-shore marine

  12. Detection and characterization of diverse coccidian protozoa shed by California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Girard, Yvette A; Johnson, Christine K; Fritz, Heather M; Shapiro, Karen; Packham, Andrea E; Melli, Ann C; Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Gulland, Frances M; Rejmanek, Daniel; Conrad, Patricia A

    2016-04-01

    Tissue-cyst forming coccidia in the family Sarcocystidae are etiologic agents of protozoal encephalitis in marine mammals including the federally listed Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris). California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), whose coastal habitat overlaps with sea otters, are definitive hosts for coccidian protozoa provisionally named Coccidia A, B and C. While Coccidia A and B have unknown clinical effects on aquatic wildlife hosts, Coccidia C is associated with severe protozoal disease in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). In this study, we conducted surveillance for protozoal infection and fecal shedding in hospitalized and free-ranging California sea lions on the Pacific Coast and examined oocyst morphology and phenotypic characteristics of isolates via mouse bioassay and cell culture. Coccidia A and B were shed in similar frequency, particularly by yearlings. Oocysts shed by one free-ranging sea lion sampled at Año Nuevo State Park in California were previously unidentified in sea lions and were most similar to coccidia infecting Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi) diagnosed with protozoal disease in Oregon (USA). Sporulated Coccidia A and B oocysts did not replicate in three strains of mice or in African green monkey kidney cells. However, cultivation experiments revealed that the inoculum of fecally-derived Coccidia A and B oocysts additionally contained organisms with genetic and antigenic similarity to Sarcocystis neurona; despite the absence of detectable free sporocysts in fecal samples by microscopic examination. In addition to the further characterization of Coccidia A and B in free-ranging and hospitalized sea lions, these results provide evidence of a new role for sea lions as putative mechanical vectors of S. neurona, or S. neurona-like species. Future work is needed to clarify the distribution, taxonomical status, and pathogenesis of these parasites in sea lions and other marine mammals that share their the near-shore marine

  13. Prolonged recovery of sea otters from the Exxon Valdez oil spill? A re-examination of the evidence.

    PubMed

    Garshelis, David L; Johnson, Charles B

    2013-06-15

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) suffered major mortality after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1989. We evaluate the contention that their recovery spanned over two decades. A model based on the otter age-at-death distribution suggested a large, spill-related population sink, but this has never been found, and other model predictions failed to match empirical data. Studies focused on a previously-oiled area where otter numbers (~80) stagnated post-spill; nevertheless, post-spill abundance exceeded the most recent pre-spill count, and population trends paralleled an adjacent, unoiled-lightly-oiled area. Some investigators posited that otters suffered chronic effects by digging up buried oil residues while foraging, but an ecological risk assessment indicated that exposure levels via this pathway were well below thresholds for toxicological effects. Significant confounding factors, including killer whale predation, subsistence harvests, human disturbances, and environmental regime shifts made it impossible to judge recovery at such a small scale.

  14. Differential gene expression induced by exposure of captive mink to fuel oil: A model for the sea otter

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bowen, L.; Riva, F.; Mohr, C.; Aldridge, B.; Schwartz, J.; Miles, A.K.; Stott, J.L.

    2007-01-01

    Free-ranging sea otters are subject to hydrocarbon exposure from a variety of sources, both natural and anthropogenic. Effects of direct exposure to unrefined crude oil, such as that associated with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, are readily apparent. However, the impact of subtle but pathophysiologically relevant concentrations of crude oil on sea otters is difficult to assess. The present study was directed at developing a model for assessing the impact of low concentrations of fuel oil on sea otters. Quantitative PCR was used to identify differential gene expression in American mink that were exposed to low concentrations of bunker C fuel oil. A total of 23 genes, representing 10 different physiological systems, were analyzed for perturbation. Six genes with immunological relevance were differentially expressed in oil-fed mink. Interleukin-18 (IL-18), IL-10, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), and complement cytolysis inhibitor (CLI) were down-regulated while IL-2 was up-regulated. Expression of two additional genes was affected; heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) was up-regulated and thyroid hormone receptor (THR) was down-regulated. While the significance of each perturbation is not immediately evident, we identified differential expression of genes that would be consistent with the presence of immune system-modifying and endocrine-disrupting compounds in fuel oil. Application of this approach to identify effects of petroleum contamination on sea otters should be possible following expansion of this mink model to identify a greater number of affected genes in peripheral blood leukocytes. ?? 2007 Ecohealth Journal Consortium.

  15. Patterns of growth and body condition in sea otters from the Aleutian archipelago before and after the recent population decline

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Laidre, K.L.; Estes, J.A.; Tinker, M.T.; Bodkin, J.; Monson, D.; Schneider, K.

    2006-01-01

    3In addition to larger asymptotic values for mass and length, the rate of growth towards asymptotic values was more rapid in the 1990s than in the 1960s/70s: sea otters reached 95% of asymptotic body mass and body length 1–2 years earlier in the 1990s.4Body condition (as measured by the log mass/log length ratio) was significantly greater in males than in females. There was also an increasing trend from the 1960s/70s through 2004 despite much year-to-year variation.5Population age structures differed significantly between the 1960s/70s and the 1990s with the latter distribution skewed toward younger age classes (indicating an altered lxfunction) suggesting almost complete relaxation of age-dependent mortality patterns (i.e. those typical of food-limited populations).6This study spanned a period of time over which the population status of sea otters in the Aleutian archipelago declined precipitously from levels at or near equilibrium densities at some islands in the 1960s/70s to < 5% of estimated carrying capacity by the late 1990s. The results of this study indicate an improved overall health of sea otters over the period of decline and suggest that limited nutritional resources were not the cause of the observed reduced population abundance. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the decline was caused by increased killer whale predation.

  16. Age-specific reproduction in female sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from south-central Alaska: analysis of reproductive tracts

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Mulcahy, Daniel M.; Lensink, Calvin J.

    1993-01-01

    We estimated age at sexual maturity and age-specific reproductive rates by examining carcasses and reproductive tracts from 177 female sea otters (Enhydra lutris). Carcasses were recovered from south-central Alaska, Primarily from western Prince William Sound, as a result of the T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. We found 65% of our sample to be sexually mature. Sexual maturity was first attained at age 2. The proportion of sexually mature animals increased from 30% at age 2 to 100% at age 5. Annual reproductive rates increased from 22% at age 2 to 78% at age 5 and remained relatively stable (75-88%) through to age 15. the sex ratio (female:male) of 49 fetal sea otters was 18:37 and differed significantly from parity. Females younger than 8 tended to produce more female fetuses, while older mothers did not. Our estimates of the reproductive characteristics of female sea otters obtained by examination of reproductive tracts were similiar to those reported in the literature based on in situ observations of marked individuals.

  17. Asynchrony in craniomandibular development and growth in Enhydra lutris nereis (Carnivora: Mustelidae): are southern sea otters born to bite?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Law, Chris J; Baliga, Vikram B.; Tinker, M. Tim; Mehta, Rita S.

    2017-01-01

    Weaning represents a major ontogenetic dietary shift in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), as juveniles must transition from depending on mother’s milk to independently processing hard-shelled invertebrates. When the skulls of juveniles have reached sufficient maturity to transition to a durophagous diet remains to be investigated. Here, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of skull development and growth and sexual dimorphism using geometric morphometric approaches in 204 southern sea otter skulls. We found that southern sea otters of both sexes exhibit dramatic changes in cranial and mandibular shape and size over ontogeny. Although the majority of these changes occur in the pup stage, full development and growth of the skull does not occur until well after weaning. We hypothesize that the slower maturation of the crania of newly weaned juveniles serves as a handicap by constraining jaw adductor muscle size, biting ability and feeding on hard-shelled prey. In our analysis of sexual dimorphism, we found significant sexual shape and size dimorphism in adult craniomandibular morphology that arose through differences in developmental and growth rates and duration. We postulate that males are selected to attain mature crania faster to presumably reach adult biting ability sooner, gaining a competitive advantage in obtaining food and in male–male agonistic interactions.

  18. Age distributions of sea otters found dead in Prince William Sound, Alaska, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Marine mammal study 6-15. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Monson, D.H.; Ballachey, B.

    1995-06-01

    Age distribution of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead on beaches in western Prince William Sound Alaska, from 1976 to 1984, were compared to those of sea otters found dead from 1989 to 1993, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The age distribution of sea otters recovered in western Prince William Sound prior to the spill was bimodal and composed of primarily young and old animals. The high proportion of prime-age otters recovered immediately following the spill indicates significant losses occurred within a segment of the population which normally experiences very low mortality. The high proportion of prime-age otters recovered in 1990-1991 may be evidence of a prolonged, spill-related effect on the western Prince William Sound sea otter population.

  19. Comparative functional anatomy of hindlimb muscles and bones with reference to aquatic adaptation of the sea otter.

    PubMed

    Mori, Kent; Suzuki, Satoshi; Koyabu, Daisuke; Kimura, Junpei; Han, Sung-Yong; Endo, Hideki

    2015-05-01

    Although the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a complete aquatic species, spending its entire life in the ocean, it has been considered morphologically to be a semi-aquatic animal. This study aimed to clarify the unique hindlimb morphology and functional adaptations of E. lutris in comparison to other Mustelidae species. We compared muscle mass and bone measurements of five Mustelidae species: the sea otter, Eurasian river otter (Lutra lutra), American mink (Neovison vison), Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi) and Siberian weasel (M. sibirica). In comparison with the other 4 species, E. lutris possessed significantly larger gluteus, popliteus and peroneus muscles, but smaller adductor and ischiopubic muscles. The popliteus muscle may act as a medial rotator of the crus, and the peroneus muscle may act as an abductor of the fifth toe and/or the pronator of the foot. The bundles of the gluteus superficialis muscle of E. lutris were fused with those of the tensor fasciae latae muscle and gluteofemoralis muscles, and they may play a role in femur abduction. These results suggest that E. lutris uses the abducted femur, medially rotated crus, eversion of the ankle and abducted fifth digit or extended interdigital web as a powerful propulsion generator. Therefore, we conclude that E. lutris is a complete aquatic animal, possessing differences in the proportions of the hindlimb muscles compared with those in other semi-aquatic and terrestrial mustelids.

  20. Long-term impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on sea otters, assessed through age-dependent mortality patterns

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Monson, D.H.; Doak, D.F.; Ballachey, B.E.; Johnson, Aaron H.; Bodkin, J.L.

    2000-01-01

    We use age distributions of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead on beaches of western Prince William Sound, Alaska, between 1976 and 1998 in conjunction with time-varying demographic models to test for lingering effects from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Our results show that sea otters in this area had decreased survival rates in the years following the spill and that the effects of the spill on annual survival increased rather than dissipated for older animals. Otters born after the 1989 spill were affected less than those alive in March 1989, but do show continuing negative effects through 1998. Population-wide effects of the spill appear to have slowly dissipated through time, due largely to the loss of cohorts alive during the spill. Our results demonstrate that the difficult-to-detect long- term impacts of environmental disasters may still be highly significant and can be rigorously analyzed by using a combination of population data, modeling techniques, and statistical analyses.

  1. Long-term impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on sea otters, assessed through age-dependent mortality patterns.

    PubMed

    Monson, D H; Doak, D F; Ballachey, B E; Johnson, A; Bodkin, J L

    2000-06-06

    We use age distributions of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) found dead on beaches of western Prince William Sound, Alaska, between 1976 and 1998 in conjunction with time-varying demographic models to test for lingering effects from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Our results show that sea otters in this area had decreased survival rates in the years following the spill and that the effects of the spill on annual survival increased rather than dissipated for older animals. Otters born after the 1989 spill were affected less than those alive in March 1989, but do show continuing negative effects through 1998. Population-wide effects of the spill appear to have slowly dissipated through time, due largely to the loss of cohorts alive during the spill. Our results demonstrate that the difficult-to-detect long-term impacts of environmental disasters may still be highly significant and can be rigorously analyzed by using a combination of population data, modeling techniques, and statistical analyses.

  2. Sea otter studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve: Aerial surveys, foraging observations, and intertidal clam sampling

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Kloecker, K.A.; Esslinger, G.G.; Monson, D.H.; DeGroot, J.D.

    2001-01-01

    Following translocations to the outer coast of Southeast Alaska in 1965, sea otters have been expanding their range and increasing in abundance. We began conducting surveys for sea otters in Cross Sound, Icy Strait and Glacier Bay, Alaska in 1994, following initial reports of their presence in Glacier Bay in 1993. Since 1995, the number of sea otters in Glacier Bay proper has increased from about 5 to more than 500. Between 1993 and 1997 sea otters were apparently only occasional visitors to Glacier Bay, but in 1998 long-term residence was established as indicated by the presence of adult females and their dependent pups. Sea otter distribution is limited to the Lower Bay, south of Sandy Cove, and is not continuous within that area. Concentration occur in the vicinity of Sita Reef and Boulder Island and between Pt. Carolus and Rush Pt. on the west side of the Bay (Figure 1). We describe the diet of sea otters in Glacier Bay and south Icy Strait through visual observations of prey during >4,000 successful forage dives. In 2,399 successful foraging dives observed in Glacier Bay proper, diet consisted of 40% clam, 21% urchins, 18% mussel, 4% crab, 5% other and 12% unidentified. Most prey recovered by sea otters are commercially, socially, or ecological important species. Species of clam are primarily Saxidomus gigantea, Protothaca staminea, and Serripes groenlandicus. Urchins are primarily Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis while both mussles, Modiolus modiolus and Mytilus trossulus, are taken. Crabs include species of Cancer, Chinoecetes, Paralithodes, and Telmessus. Although we characterize diet at broad geographic scales, we found diet to vary between sites separated by as little as several hundred meters. Dietary variation among and within sites can reflect differences in prey availability and individual choice. We estimated species composition, density, biomass, and sizes of intertidal clams at 59 sites in Glacier Bay, 14 sites in Idaho Inlet, 12 sites in Port

  3. Sound production and reception in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Ghoul, Asila; Reichmuth, Colleen

    2012-01-01

    Because of their dependence on a highly restricted coastal habitat, Enhydra lutris is especially vulnerable to a variety of different environmental and anthropogenic threats. This species is presently listed as threatened and is protected throughout the northern and southern portions of its range.Resource managers are presently faced with uncertainty when responding to and prioritizing potential threats to these animals due to insufficient understanding of the factors that may disturb or disrupt normal behavior patterns both above and below the water's surface. The objective of these studies was to obtain direct measurements of the source characteristics of vocalizations and the limits of auditory reception in Enhydra lutris. These data are necessary to form a basic but essential under-standing of bioacoustics in this species. To further develop this knowledge base, psychoacoustic profiles of aerial and underwater hearing sensitivity as a function of sound frequency are imperative to adequately consider sea otters alongside other marine mammals within the issue of anthropogenic impacts. These studies are presently ongoing i n our laboratory. A s these coastal-living carnivores have only recently transitioned to a marine lifestyle, an improved understanding of their acoustic communication and auditory adaptations will also provide insight into their evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology as well as the evolutionary pressures shaping underwater perception in marine mammals.

  4. Food limitation leads to behavioral diversification and dietary specialization in sea otters.

    PubMed

    Tinker, M Tim; Bentall, Gena; Estes, James A

    2008-01-15

    Dietary diversity often varies inversely with prey resource abundance. This pattern, although typically measured at the population level, is usually assumed to also characterize the behavior of individual animals within the population. However, the pattern might also be produced by changes in the degree of variation among individuals. Here we report on dietary and associated behavioral changes that occurred with the experimental translocation of sea otters from a food-poor to a food-rich environment. Although the diets of all individuals were broadly similar in the food-rich environment, a behaviorally based dietary polymorphism existed in the food-poor environment. Higher dietary diversity under low resource abundance was largely driven by greater variation among individuals. We further show that the dietary polymorphism in the food-poor environment included a broad suite of correlated behavioral variables and that the individuals that comprised specific behavioral clusters benefited from improved foraging efficiency on their individually preferred prey. Our findings add to the growing list of examples of extreme individuality in behavior and prey choice within populations and suggest that this phenomenon can emerge as a behavioral manifestation of increased population density. Individuality in foraging behavior adds complexity to both the fitness consequences of prey selection and food web dynamics, and it may figure prominently as a diversifying process over evolutionary timescales.

  5. Food limitation leads to behavioral diversification and dietary specialization in sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M.T.; Bentall, G.; Estes, J.A.

    2008-01-01

    Dietary diversity often varies inversely with prey resource abundance. This pattern, although typically measured at the population level, is usually assumed to also characterize the behavior of individual animals within the population. However, the pattern might also be produced by changes in the degree of variation among individuals. Here we report on dietary and associated behavioral changes that occurred with the experimental translocation of sea otters from a food-poor to a food-rich environment. Although the diets of all individuals were broadly similar in the food-rich environment, a behaviorally based dietary polymorphism existed in the food-poor environment. Higher dietary diversity under low resource abundance was largely driven by greater variation among individuals. We further show that the dietary polymorphism in the food-poor environment included a broad suite of correlated behavioral variables and that the individuals that comprised specific behavioral clusters benefited from improved foraging efficiency on their individually preferred prey. Our findings add to the growing list of examples of extreme individuality in behavior and prey choice within populations and suggest that this phenomenon can emerge as a behavioral manifestation of increased population density. Individuality in foraging behavior adds complexity to both the fitness consequences of prey selection and food web dynamics, and it may figure prominently as a diversifying process over evolutionary timescales. ?? 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

  6. Sarcocystis neurona infections in sea otter (Enhydra lutris): evidence for natural infections with sarcocysts and transmission of infection to opossums (Didelphis virginiana)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dubey, J.P.; Rosypal, A.C.; Rosenthal, B.M.; Thomas, N.J.; Lindsay, D.S.; Stanek, J.F.; Reed, S.M.; Saville, W.J.A.

    2001-01-01

    Although Sarcocystis neurona has been identified in an array of terrestrial vertebrates, recent recognition of its capacity to infect marine mammals was unexpected. Here, sarcocysts from 2 naturally infected sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were characterized biologically, ultrastructurally, and genetically. DNA was extracted from frozen muscle of the first of these sea otters and was characterized as S. neurona by polymerase chain reation (PCR) amplification followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and sequencing. Sarcocysts from sea otter no. 1 were up to 350 I?m long, and the villar protrusions on the sarcocyst wall were up to 1.3 I?m long and up to 0.25 I?m wide. The villar protrusions were tapered towards the villar tip. Ultrastructurally, sarcocysts were similar to S. neurona sarcocysts from the muscles of cats experimentally infected with S. neurona sporocysts. Skeletal muscles from a second sea otter failed to support PCR amplification of markers considered diagnostic for S. neurona but did induce the shedding of sporocysts when fed to a laboratory-raised opossum (Didelphis virginiana). Such sporocysts were subsequently fed to knockout mice for the interferon-gamma gene, resulting in infections with an agent identified as S. neurona on the basis of immunohistochemistry, serum antibodies, and diagnostic sequence detection. Thus, sea otters exposed to S. neurona may support the development of mature sarcocysts that are infectious to competent definitive hosts.

  7. Modeling Gas Dynamics in California Sea Lions

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2015-09-30

    for diving California sea lions. Aim 1: Pressure-volume (compliance) loops from excised California sea lions lungs and upper airways (trachea...were used to update the parameters that estimate the pulmonary shunt during diving. The compliance estimates were related to lung and tracheal volumes...during compression to pulmonary shunt (Bostrom, Fahlman et al. 2008). In the existing model, the compliance parameter for the lung was for

  8. Mortality and reproduction of female sea otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Marine mammal study 6-13. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Monnett, C.; Rotterman, L.M.

    1995-05-01

    Ninety-six female sea otters were instrumeted with implanted radio-transmitters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, during 1989-1990. Females in eastern Prince William Sound exhibited a lower survival rate than those in western Prince William Sound. No differences were observed between rates of pupping or between rates of survival of dependent pups for sea otters in the two areas.

  9. Intersection model for estimating sea otter mortality from the Exxon Valdez oil spill along the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Marine mammal study 6-5. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Bodkin, J.L.; Udevitz, M.S.

    1995-06-01

    The authors developed an analytical model (intersection model) to estimate the exposure of sea otters (Enhydra lutris), to oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The authors applied estimated and assumed exposure dependent mortality rates to the Kenai Peninsula sea otter population to provide examples of the application of the model in estimating sea otter mortality. The intersection model requires three distinct types of data: (1) distribution, abundance, and movements of oil, (2) abundance and distribution of sea otters, and (3) sea otter mortality rates relative to oil exposure. Initial output of the model is an estimate of exposure of otters to oil. Exposure is measured in amount and duration of oil near an otter`s observed location (intersections). The authors provide two examples of the model using different assumptions about the relation between exposure and mortality. Because of an apparent non-linear relation between the degree of oiling and survival of otters from rehabilitation, output from the authors` examples are likely biased.

  10. Structure and mechanism of diet specialisation: testing models of individual variation in resource use with sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker Tim, M.; Guimarães, Paulo R.; Novak, Mark; Marquitti, Flavia Maria Darcie; Bodkin, James L.; Staedler, Michelle; Bentall, Gena B.; Estes, James A.

    2012-01-01

    Studies of consumer-resource interactions suggest that individual diet specialisation is empirically widespread and theoretically important to the organisation and dynamics of populations and communities. We used weighted networks to analyze the resource use by sea otters, testing three alternative models for how individual diet specialisation may arise. As expected, individual specialisation was absent when otter density was low, but increased at high-otter density. A high-density emergence of nested resource-use networks was consistent with the model assuming individuals share preference ranks. However, a density-dependent emergence of a non-nested modular network for ‘core’ resources was more consistent with the ‘competitive refuge’ model. Individuals from different diet modules showed predictable variation in rank-order prey preferences and handling times of core resources, further supporting the competitive refuge model. Our findings support a hierarchical organisation of diet specialisation and suggest individual use of core and marginal resources may be driven by different selective pressures.

  11. Long-term effects of the 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill: Sea otter foraging in the intertidal as a pathway of exposure to lingering oil

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Coletti, Heather A.; Esslinger, George; Kloecker, Kim; Rice, Stanley D.; Reed, John; Monson, Daniel H.

    2012-01-01

    The protracted recovery of some bird and mammal populations in western Prince William Sound (WPWS), Alaska, and the persistence of spilled 'Exxon Valdez' oil in intertidal sediments, suggests a pathway of exposure to consumers that occupy nearshore habitats. To evaluate the hypothesis that sea otter (Enhydra lutris) foraging allows access to lingering oil, we contrast spatial relations between foraging behavior and documented oil distribution. We recovered archival time-depth recorders implanted in 19 sea otters in WPWS, where lingering oil and delayed ecosystem recovery are well documented. Sea otter foraging dives ranged from +2.7 to -92 m below sea level (MLLW), with intertidal accounting for 5 to 38% of all foraging. On average, female sea otters made 16050 intertidal dives per year and 18% of these dives were at depths above the +0.80 m tidal elevation. Males made 4100 intertidal dives per year and 26% of intertidal foraging took place at depths above the +0.80 m tidal elevation. Estimated annual oil encounter rates ranged from 2 to 24 times yr-1 for females, and 2 to 4 times yr-1 for males. Exposure rates increased in spring when intertidal foraging doubled and females were with small pups. In summer 2008, we found sea otter foraging pits on 13.5 of 24.8 km of intertidal shoreline surveyed. Most pits (82%) were within 0.5 m of the zero tidal elevation and 15% were above 0.5 m, the level above which most (65%) lingering oil remains. In August 2008, we detected oil above background concentrations in 18 of 41 (44%) pits excavated by sea otters on beaches with prior evidence of oiling, with total PAH concentrations up to 56000 ng g−1 dry weight. Our estimates of intertidal foraging, the widespread presence of foraging pits in the intertidal, and the presence of oil in and near sea otter foraging pits documents a pathway of exposure from lingering intertidal oil to sea otters foraging in WPWS.

  12. Long-term effects of the ‘Exxon Valdez’ oil spill: sea otter foraging in the intertidal as a pathway of exposure to lingering oil

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Coletti, Heather A.; Esslinger, George G.; Kloecker, Kimberly A.; Rice, Stanley D.; Reed, John A.; Monson, Daniel H.

    2012-01-01

    The protracted recovery of some bird and mammal populations in western Prince William Sound (WPWS), Alaska, and the persistence of spilled ‘Exxon Valdez’ oil in intertidal sediments, suggests a pathway of exposure to consumers that occupy nearshore habitats. To evaluate the hypothesis that sea otter (Enhydra lutris) foraging allows access to lingering oil, we contrast spatial relations between foraging behavior and documented oil distribution. We recovered archival time-depth recorders implanted in 19 sea otters in WPWS, where lingering oil and de­layed ecosystem recovery are well documented. Sea otter foraging dives ranged from +2.7 to −92 m below sea level (MLLW), with intertidal accounting for 5 to 38% of all foraging. On average, female sea otters made 16050 intertidal dives per year and 18% of these dives were at depths above the +0.80 m tidal elevation. Males made 4100 intertidal dives per year and 26% of intertidal foraging took place at depths above the +0.80 m tidal elevation. Estimated annual oil encounter rates ranged from 2 to 24 times yr−1 for females, and 2 to 4 times yr−1 for males. Exposure rates increased in spring when intertidal foraging doubled and females were with small pups. In summer 2008, we found sea otter foraging pits on 13.5 of 24.8 km of intertidal shoreline surveyed. Most pits (82%) were within 0.5 m of the zero tidal elevation and 15% were above 0.5 m, the level above which most (65%) lingering oil remains. In August 2008, we detected oil above background concentrations in 18 of 41 (44%) pits excavated by sea otters on beaches with prior evidence of oiling, with total PAH concentrations up to 56000 ng g−1 dry weight. Our estimates of intertidal foraging, the widespread presence of foraging pits in the intertidal, and the presence of oil in and near sea otter foraging pits documents a pathway of exposure from lingering intertidal oil to sea otters ­foraging in WPWS.

  13. Long-term effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill: sea otter foraging in the intertidal as a pathway of exposure to lingering oil

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Coletti, Heather A.; Esslinger, George; Kloecker, Kim; Rice, Stanley D.; Reed, John; Monson, Daniel H.

    2012-01-01

    The protracted recovery of some bird and mammal populations in western Prince William Sound (WPWS), Alaska, and the persistence of spilled 'Exxon Valdez' oil in intertidal sediments, suggests a pathway of exposure to consumers that occupy nearshore habitats. To evaluate the hypothesis that sea otter (Enhydra lutris) foraging allows access to lingering oil, we contrast spatial relations between foraging behavior and documented oil distribution. We recovered archival time-depth recorders implanted in 19 sea otters in WPWS, where lingering oil and delayed ecosystem recovery are well documented. Sea otter foraging dives ranged from +2.7 to -92 m below sea level (MLLW), with intertidal accounting for 5 to 38% of all foraging. On average, female sea otters made 16050 intertidal dives per year and 18% of these dives were at depths above the +0.80 m tidal elevation. Males made 4100 intertidal dives per year and 26% of intertidal foraging took place at depths above the +0.80 m tidal elevation. Estimated annual oil encounter rates ranged from 2 to 24 times yr-1 for females, and 2 to 4 times yr-1 for males. Exposure rates increased in spring when intertidal foraging doubled and females were with small pups. In summer 2008, we found sea otter foraging pits on 13.5 of 24.8 km of intertidal shoreline surveyed. Most pits (82%) were within 0.5 m of the zero tidal elevation and 15% were above 0.5 m, the level above which most (65%) lingering oil remains. In August 2008, we detected oil above background concentrations in 18 of 41 (44%) pits excavated by sea otters on beaches with prior evidence of oiling, with total PAH concentrations up to 56000 ng g−1 dry weight. Our estimates of intertidal foraging, the widespread presence of foraging pits in the intertidal, and the presence of oil in and near sea otter foraging pits documents a pathway of exposure from lingering intertidal oil to sea otters foraging in WPWS.

  14. Patterns of growth and body condition in sea otters from the Aleutian archipelago before and after the recent population decline.

    PubMed

    Laidre, K L; Estes, J A; Tinker, M T; Bodkin, J; Monson, D; Schneider, K

    2006-07-01

    1. Growth models for body mass and length were fitted to data collected from 1842 sea otters Enhydra lutris shot or live-captured throughout south-west Alaska between 1967 and 2004. Growth curves were constructed for each of two main year groups: 1967-71 when the population was at or near carrying capacity and 1992-97 when the population was in steep decline. Analyses of data collected from animals caught during 2004, when the population density was very low, were precluded by a small sample size and consequently only examined incidentally to the main growth curves. 2. Growth curves demonstrated a significant increase in body mass and body length at age in the 1990s. Asymptotic values of body mass were 12-18% higher in the 1990s than in the 1960s/70s, and asymptotic values for body length were 10-11% higher between the same periods. Data collected in 2004 suggest a continued increase in body size, with nearly all data points for mass and length falling significantly above the 1990s growth curves. 3. In addition to larger asymptotic values for mass and length, the rate of growth towards asymptotic values was more rapid in the 1990s than in the 1960s/70s: sea otters reached 95% of asymptotic body mass and body length 1-2 years earlier in the 1990s. 4. Body condition (as measured by the log mass/log length ratio) was significantly greater in males than in females. There was also an increasing trend from the 1960s/70s through 2004 despite much year-to-year variation. 5. Population age structures differed significantly between the 1960s/70s and the 1990s with the latter distribution skewed toward younger age classes (indicating an altered lx function) suggesting almost complete relaxation of age-dependent mortality patterns (i.e. those typical of food-limited populations). 6. This study spanned a period of time over which the population status of sea otters in the Aleutian archipelago declined precipitously from levels at or near equilibrium densities at some islands in

  15. Sea otters, social justice, and ecosystem-service perceptions in Clayoquot Sound, Canada.

    PubMed

    Levine, Jordan; Muthukrishna, Michael; Chan, Kai M A; Satterfield, Terre

    2017-04-01

    We sought to take a first step toward better integration of social concerns into empirical ecosystem service (ES) work. We did this by adapting cognitive anthropological techniques to study the Clayoquot Sound social-ecological system on the Pacific coast of Canada's Vancouver Island. We used freelisting and ranking exercises to elicit how locals perceive ESs and to determine locals' preferred food species. We analyzed these data with the freelist-analysis software package ANTHROPAC. We considered the results in light of an ongoing trophic cascade caused by the government reintroduction of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and their spread along the island's Pacific coast. We interviewed 67 local residents (n = 29 females, n = 38 males; n = 26 self-identified First Nation individuals, and n = 41 non-First Nation individuals) and 4 government managers responsible for conservation policy in the region. We found that the mental categories participants-including trained ecologists-used to think about ESs, did not match the standard academic ES typology. With reference to the latest ecological model projections for the region, we found that First Nations individuals and women were most likely to perceive the most immediate ES losses from the trophic cascade, with the most certainty. The inverse was found for men and non-First Nations individuals, generally. This suggests that 2 historically disadvantaged groups (i.e., First Nations and women) are poised to experience the immediate impacts of the government-initiated trophic cascade as yet another social injustice in a long line of perceived inequities. Left unaddressed, this could complicate efforts at multistakeholder ecosystem management in the region.

  16. Using demography and movement behavior to predict range expansion of the southern sea otter.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tinker, M.T.; Doak, D.F.; Estes, J.A.

    2008-01-01

    In addition to forecasting population growth, basic demographic data combined with movement data provide a means for predicting rates of range expansion. Quantitative models of range expansion have rarely been applied to large vertebrates, although such tools could be useful for restoration and management of many threatened but recovering populations. Using the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) as a case study, we utilized integro-difference equations in combination with a stage-structured projection matrix that incorporated spatial variation in dispersal and demography to make forecasts of population recovery and range recolonization. In addition to these basic predictions, we emphasize how to make these modeling predictions useful in a management context through the inclusion of parameter uncertainty and sensitivity analysis. Our models resulted in hind-cast (1989-2003) predictions of net population growth and range expansion that closely matched observed patterns. We next made projections of future range expansion and population growth, incorporating uncertainty in all model parameters, and explored the sensitivity of model predictions to variation in spatially explicit survival and dispersal rates. The predicted rate of southward range expansion (median = 5.2 km/yr) was sensitive to both dispersal and survival rates; elasticity analysis indicated that changes in adult survival would have the greatest potential effect on the rate of range expansion, while perturbation analysis showed that variation in subadult dispersal contributed most to variance in model predictions. Variation in survival and dispersal of females at the south end of the range contributed most of the variance in predicted southward range expansion. Our approach provides guidance for the acquisition of further data and a means of forecasting the consequence of specific management actions. Similar methods could aid in the management of other recovering populations.

  17. Organochloride pesticides in California sea lions revisited

    PubMed Central

    Le Boeuf, Burney J; Giesy, John P; Kannan, Kurunthachalam; Kajiwara, Natsuko; Tanabe, Shinsuke; Debier, Cathy

    2002-01-01

    Background Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that have been banned in most countries, but considerable amounts continue to cycle the ecosphere. Top trophic level predators, like sea birds and marine mammals, bioaccumulate these lipophilic compounds, reflecting their presence in the environment. Results We measured concentrations of tDDT (p,p' - DDT + p,p' - DDD + p,p' - DDE) and PCBs in the blubber of dead California sea lions stranded along the California coast. tDDT and PCB concentrations were 150 ± 257 ug/g lipid weight (mean ± SD) and 44 ± 78 ug/g lipid weight, respectively. There were no differences in tDDT or PCB concentrations between animal categories varying in sex or age. There was a trend towards a decrease in tDDT and PCB concentrations from northern to southern California. The lipid content of the blubber was negatively correlated with levels of tDDT and PCBs. tDDT concentrations were approximately 3 times higher than PCB concentrations. Conclusions tDDT levels in the blubber of California sea lions decreased by over one order of magnitude from 1970 to 2000. PCB level changes over time were unclear owing to a paucity of data and analytical differences over the years. Current levels of these pollutants in California sea lions are among the highest among marine mammals and exceed those reported to cause immunotoxicity or endocrine disruption. PMID:12479795

  18. Permissible Home Range Estimation (PHRE) in Restricted Habitats: A New Algorithm and an Evaluation for Sea Otters

    PubMed Central

    Tarjan, L. Max; Tinker, M. Tim

    2016-01-01

    Parametric and nonparametric kernel methods dominate studies of animal home ranges and space use. Most existing methods are unable to incorporate information about the underlying physical environment, leading to poor performance in excluding areas that are not used. Using radio-telemetry data from sea otters, we developed and evaluated a new algorithm for estimating home ranges (hereafter Permissible Home Range Estimation, or “PHRE”) that reflects habitat suitability. We began by transforming sighting locations into relevant landscape features (for sea otters, coastal position and distance from shore). Then, we generated a bivariate kernel probability density function in landscape space and back-transformed this to geographic space in order to define a permissible home range. Compared to two commonly used home range estimation methods, kernel densities and local convex hulls, PHRE better excluded unused areas and required a smaller sample size. Our PHRE method is applicable to species whose ranges are restricted by complex physical boundaries or environmental gradients and will improve understanding of habitat-use requirements and, ultimately, aid in conservation efforts. PMID:27003710

  19. Permissible Home Range Estimation (PHRE) in Restricted Habitats: A New Algorithm and an Evaluation for Sea Otters.

    PubMed

    Tarjan, L Max; Tinker, M Tim

    2016-01-01

    Parametric and nonparametric kernel methods dominate studies of animal home ranges and space use. Most existing methods are unable to incorporate information about the underlying physical environment, leading to poor performance in excluding areas that are not used. Using radio-telemetry data from sea otters, we developed and evaluated a new algorithm for estimating home ranges (hereafter Permissible Home Range Estimation, or "PHRE") that reflects habitat suitability. We began by transforming sighting locations into relevant landscape features (for sea otters, coastal position and distance from shore). Then, we generated a bivariate kernel probability density function in landscape space and back-transformed this to geographic space in order to define a permissible home range. Compared to two commonly used home range estimation methods, kernel densities and local convex hulls, PHRE better excluded unused areas and required a smaller sample size. Our PHRE method is applicable to species whose ranges are restricted by complex physical boundaries or environmental gradients and will improve understanding of habitat-use requirements and, ultimately, aid in conservation efforts.

  20. Permissible Home Range Estimation (PHRE) in restricted habitats: A new algorithm and an evaluation for sea otters

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Tarjan, Lily M; Tinker, M. Tim

    2016-01-01

    Parametric and nonparametric kernel methods dominate studies of animal home ranges and space use. Most existing methods are unable to incorporate information about the underlying physical environment, leading to poor performance in excluding areas that are not used. Using radio-telemetry data from sea otters, we developed and evaluated a new algorithm for estimating home ranges (hereafter Permissible Home Range Estimation, or “PHRE”) that reflects habitat suitability. We began by transforming sighting locations into relevant landscape features (for sea otters, coastal position and distance from shore). Then, we generated a bivariate kernel probability density function in landscape space and back-transformed this to geographic space in order to define a permissible home range. Compared to two commonly used home range estimation methods, kernel densities and local convex hulls, PHRE better excluded unused areas and required a smaller sample size. Our PHRE method is applicable to species whose ranges are restricted by complex physical boundaries or environmental gradients and will improve understanding of habitat-use requirements and, ultimately, aid in conservation efforts.

  1. Technical report: Marine mammals study number 6. Mortality and reproduction of sea otters oiled and treated as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Marine mammal study 6-14. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report. Technical report

    SciTech Connect

    Monnett, C.; Rotterman, L.M.

    1995-05-01

    Radio-instrumented sea otters (N = 45) that were released into eastern Prince William Sound during summer, 1989, following efforts to rehabilitate them at otter treatment centers, have been monitored regularly for approximately 2 years. Respective survival rates of male and female sea otters released from the treatment centers were: Year 1: males P = 0,401, females P = 0.401, females P = 0.445; Year 2: males P = 0.714, females P = 0.692. Only 2 of 11 (18%) mature females pupped during 1990. Sea otters released from treatment centers had lower survivorship and pupping rates than sea otters in other study populations.

  2. Identification and Validation of Plasma Biomarkers in California Sea Lions

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2014-04-24

    California sea lions { Zalophus californianus ) with domoic acid toxicosis. 43r Annual International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine Conference. May...Janech MG. 2012. Proteomic analysis of cerebral spinal fluid from California sea lions ( Zalophus californianus ) with domoic acid toxicosis. MUSC...domoic acid exposure in California sea lions, Zalophus californianus . Society of Marine Mammaology Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, 2009. JA

  3. Testing the nutritional-limitation, predator-avoidance, and storm-avoidance hypotheses for restricted sea otter habitat use in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.

    PubMed

    Stewart, Nathan L; Konar, Brenda; Tinker, M Tim

    2015-03-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) inhabiting the Aleutian Islands have stabilized at low abundance levels following a decline and currently exhibit restricted habitat-utilization patterns. Possible explanations for restricted habitat use by sea otters can be classified into two fundamentally different processes, bottom-up and top-down forcing. Bottom-up hypotheses argue that changes in the availability or nutritional quality of prey resources have led to the selective use of habitats that support the highest quality prey. In contrast, top-down hypotheses argue that increases in predation pressure from killer whales have led to the selective use of habitats that provide the most effective refuge from killer whale predation. A third hypothesis suggests that current restricted habitat use is based on a need for protection from storms. We tested all three hypotheses for restricted habitat use by comparing currently used and historically used sea otter foraging locations for: (1) prey availability and quality, (2) structural habitat complexity, and (3) exposure to prevailing storms. Our findings suggest that current use is based on physical habitat complexity and not on prey availability, prey quality, or protection from storms, providing further evidence for killer whale predation as a cause for restricted sea otter habitat use in the Aleutian Islands.

  4. Testing the nutritional-limitation, predator-avoidance, and storm-avoidance hypotheses for restricted sea otter habitat use in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Stewart, Nathan L.; Konar, Brenda; Tinker, M. Tim

    2015-01-01

    Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) inhabiting the Aleutian Islands have stabilized at low abundance levels following a decline and currently exhibit restricted habitat-utilization patterns. Possible explanations for restricted habitat use by sea otters can be classified into two fundamentally different processes, bottom-up and top-down forcing. Bottom-up hypotheses argue that changes in the availability or nutritional quality of prey resources have led to the selective use of habitats that support the highest quality prey. In contrast, top-down hypotheses argue that increases in predation pressure from killer whales have led to the selective use of habitats that provide the most effective refuge from killer whale predation. A third hypothesis suggests that current restricted habitat use is based on a need for protection from storms. We tested all three hypotheses for restricted habitat use by comparing currently used and historically used sea otter foraging locations for: (1) prey availability and quality, (2) structural habitat complexity, and (3) exposure to prevailing storms. Our findings suggest that current use is based on physical habitat complexity and not on prey availability, prey quality, or protection from storms, providing further evidence for killer whale predation as a cause for restricted sea otter habitat use in the Aleutian Islands.

  5. SeaWiFS: California Coastal Blooms

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2002-01-01

    There was a good bit of variety in the water colors off the California coast on September 3, 2001. This SeaWiFS image shows various phytoplankton blooms that paint the water green, aquamarine, and even rust colored in places.

  6. Exposure of sea otters and harlequin ducks in Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, to shoreline oil residues 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    PubMed

    Neff, Jerry M; Page, David S; Boehm, Paul D

    2011-03-01

    We assessed whether sea otters and harlequin ducks in an area of western Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA (PWS), oiled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from oil residues 20 years after the spill. Spilled oil has persisted in PWS for two decades as surface oil residues (SOR) and subsurface oil residues (SSOR) on the shore. The rare SOR are located primarily on the upper shore as inert, nonhazardous asphaltic deposits, and SSOR are confined to widely scattered locations as small patches under a boulder/cobble veneer, primarily on the middle and upper shore, in forms and locations that preclude physical contact by wildlife and diminish bioavailability. Sea otters and harlequin ducks consume benthic invertebrates that they collect by diving to the bottom in the intertidal and subtidal zones. Sea otters also dig intertidal and subtidal pits in search of clams. The three plausible exposure pathways are through the water, in oil-contaminated prey, or by direct contact with SSOR during foraging. Concentrations of PAH in near-shore water off oiled shores in 2002 to 2005 were at background levels (<0.05 ng/L). Median concentrations of PAH in five intertidal prey species on oiled shores in 2002 to 2008 range from 4.0 to 34 ng/g dry weight, indistinguishable from background concentrations. Subsurface oil residues are restricted to locations on the shore and substrate types, where large clams do not occur and where sea otters do not dig foraging pits. Therefore, that sea otters and harlequin ducks continue to be exposed to environmentally significant amounts of PAH from EVOS 20 years after the spill is not plausible.

  7. Epidemiology and pathology of Toxoplasma gondii in free-ranging California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Colegrove, Kathleen M; Gulland, Frances M D; Conrad, Patricia A; Mazet, Jonna A K; Johnson, Christine K

    2015-04-01

    The coccidian parasite Toxoplasma gondii infects humans and warm-blooded animals worldwide. The ecology of this parasite in marine systems is poorly understood, although many marine mammals are infected and susceptible to clinical toxoplasmosis. We summarized the lesions associated with T. gondii infection in the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) population and investigated the prevalence of and risk factors associated with T. gondii exposure, as indicated by antibody. Five confirmed and four suspected cases of T. gondii infection were identified by analysis of 1,152 medical records of necropsied sea lions from 1975-2009. One suspected and two confirmed cases were identified in aborted fetuses from a sea lion rookery. Toxoplasmosis was the primary cause of death in five cases, including the two fetuses. Gross and histopathologic findings in T. gondii-infected sea lions were similar to those reported in other marine mammals. The most common lesions were encephalitis, meningitis, and myocarditis. The antibody prevalence in stranded, free-ranging sea lions for 1998-2009 was 2.5% (±0.03%; IgG titer 640). There was an increase in odds of exposure in sea lions with increasing age, suggesting cumulative risk of exposure and persistent antibody over time. The occurrence of disseminated T. gondii infection in aborted fetuses confirms vertical transmission in sea lions, and the increasing odds of exposure with age is consistent with additional opportunities for horizontal transmission in free-ranging sea lions over time. These data suggest that T. gondii may have two modes of transmission in the sea lion population. Overall, clinical disease was uncommon in our study which, along with low prevalence of T. gondii antibody, suggests substantially less-frequent exposure and lower susceptibility to clinical disease in California sea lions as compared to sympatric southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

  8. Detection of sea otters in boat-based surveys of Prince William Sound, Alaska. Marine mammal study 6-19. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Udevitz, M.S.; Bodkin, J.L.; Costa, D.P.

    1995-05-01

    Boat-based surveys were used to monitor the Prince William Sound sea otter population before and after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Population and loss estimates could be obtained from these surveys by direct expansion from the counts in the surveyed transects under the assumption that all otters in those transects were observed. The authors conducted a pilot study using ground-based observers in conjunction with the August 1990 survey of marine mammals and birds to investigate the validity of this assumption. The proportion of otters detected by boat crews was estimated by comparing boat and ground-based observations on 22 segments of shoreline transects. Overall, the authors estimated that only 70% of the otters in surveyed shoreline transects were detected by the boat crews. These results suggest that unadjusted expansions of boat survey transect counts will underestimate sea otter population size and that loss estimates based on comparisons of unadjusted population estimates will be biased.

  9. Surveys of sea otters in the Gulf of Alaska in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Marine mammal study 6-7. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    DeGange, A.R.; Douglas, D.C.; Monson, D.H.; Robbins, C.M.

    1995-05-01

    Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) abundance and distribution in the Gulf of Alaska west of Prince William Sound were surveyed by helicopter in the spring of 1989 at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the following fall. Estimated population sizes did not significantly decline between spring and fall for areas with comparable survey data. No significant (p>0.05) shifts of sea otter distributions in heavily, lightly and unoiled areas were detected between spring and fall surveys.

  10. Age-specific reproduction in female sea otters (`enhydra lutris`) from southcentral Alaska: Analysis of reproductive tracts. Marine mammal study 6-4. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Bodkin, J.L.; Mulcahy, D.M.; Lensink, C.J.

    1996-06-01

    We estimated age of sexual maturity and age-specific reproductive rates by examining carcasses and reproductive tracts from 177 female sea otters (Enhydra lutris). Carcasses were recovered from southcentral Alaska, primarily western Prince William Sound, following the T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Our estimates of the reproductive characteristics of female sea otters obtained by examination of reproductive tracts were similar to those in the literature based on in situ observations of marked individuals.

  11. Experiments to determine drift patterns and rates of recovery of sea otter carcasses following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Marine mammal study 6-9. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Doroff, A.M.; DeGange, A.R.

    1995-05-01

    Two experiments were conducted to evaluate efforts to recover sea otter (Enhydra lutris) carcasses following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The first study was implemented during sea otter rescue and carcass recovery activities to assess the probability of carcass recovery. Twenty-five previously recovered sea otter carcasses were marked with flipper tags and released near northern Kodiak Island between 27 May and 3 June 1989. Five were recovered, for a recovery rate of 20%. In the second study, 30 radio-monitored floats designed to assess drift characteristics of floating sea otter carcasses were deployed in early summer 1990. During a 43-day monitoring period, 27 were known to have washed ashore, 25 in Prince William Sound (PWS) and two on the Gulf of Alaska coast of Montague Island. These studies suggest that many more sea otters may have died from the spill than were recovered, and that some sea otters succumbing to oil exposure in PWS could have drifted outside of PWS and never been recovered.

  12. Imperial Valley and Salton Sea, California

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2002-01-01

    Southern California's Salton Sea is a prominent visual for astronauts. This large lake supports the rich agricultural fields of the Imperial, Coachella and Mexicali Valleys in the California and Mexico desert. The Salton Sea formed by accident in 1905 when an irrigation canal ruptured, allowing the Colorado River to flood the Salton Basin. Today the Sea performs an important function as the sink for agricultural runoff; water levels are maintained by the runoff from the surrounding agricultural valleys. The Salton Sea salinity is high-nearly 1/4 saltier than ocean water-but it remains an important stopover point for migratory water birds, including several endangered species. The region also experiences several environmental problems. The recent increased demands for the limited Colorado River water threatens the amount of water allowed to flow into the Salton Sea. Increased salinity and decreased water levels could trigger several regional environmental crises. The agricultural flow into the Sea includes nutrients and agricultural by-products, increasing the productivity and likelihood of algae blooms. This image shows either a bloom, or suspended sediment (usually highly organic) in the water that has been stirred up by winds. Additional information: The Salton Sea A Brief Description of Its Current Conditions, and Potential Remediation Projects and Land Use Across the U.S.-Mexico Border Astronaut photograph STS111-E-5224 was taken by the STS-111 Space Shuttle crew that recently returned from the International Space Station. The image was taken June 12, 2002 using a digital camera. The image was provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

  13. Hydrocarbon residues in tissues of sea otters (`enhydra lutris`) collected following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Marine mammal study 6-16. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Ballachey, B.E.; Kloecker, K.A.

    1997-04-01

    Ten moderately to heavily oiled sea otters were collected in Prince William Sound during the Exxon Valdez oil spill and up to seven tissues from each were analyzed for hydrocarbons. Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons were detected in all tissues. Concentrations of aromatic hydrocarbons in fat samples were an order of magnitude higher than in other tissues. The patterns of distribution of these hydrocarbons suggested crude oil as the source of contamination. However, there was variation among oiled otters in the concentrations of individual hydrocarbons, which may be due to differing proximate causes of mortality and varying lengths of time and sea otters survived following oil exposure. The concentrations of both aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in the tissues of the ten oiled sea otters generally were higher than in tissues from 7 sea otters with no external oiling that were collected from prince William Sound in 1989 and 1990, or from 12 sea otters collected from an area in southeast Alaska which had not experienced an oil spill.

  14. Trends in sea otter population abundance in western Prince William Sound, Alaska: Progress toward recovery following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, J.L.; Ballachey, B.E.; Esslinger, G.G.

    2011-01-01

    Sea otters in western Prince William Sound (WPWS) and elsewhere in the Gulf of Alaska suffered widespread mortality as a result of oiling following the 1989 T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill. Following the spill, extensive efforts have been directed toward identifying and understanding long-term consequences of the spill and the process of recovery. We conducted annual aerial surveys of sea otter abundance from 1993 to 2009 (except for 2001 and 2006) in WPWS. We observed an increasing trend in population abundance at the scale of WPWS through 2000 at an average annual rate of 4 percent: however, at northern Knight Island where oiling was heaviest and sea otter mortality highest, no increase in abundance was evident by 2000. We continued to see significant increase in abundance at the scale of WPWS between 2001 and 2009, with an average annual rate of increase from 1993 to 2009 of 2.6 percent. We estimated the 2009 population size of WPWS to be 3,958 animals (standard error=653), nearly 2,000 animals more than the first post-spill estimate in 1993. Surveys since 2003 also have identified a significant increasing trend at the heavily oiled site in northern Knight Island, averaging about 25 percent annually and resulting in a 2009 estimated population size of 116 animals (standard error=19). Although the 2009 estimate for northern Knight Island remains about 30 percent less than the pre-spill estimate of 165 animals, we interpret this trend as strong evidence of a trajectory toward recovery of spill-affected sea otter populations in WPWS.

  15. Synthesis of nearshore recovery following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill: sea otter liver pathology and survival in Western Prince William Sound, 2001 – 2008

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ballachey, Brenda E.; Monson, D.H.; Kloecker, K.A.; Esslinger, G.G.; Mohr, F.C.; Lipscomb, T.P.; Murray, M.J.; Howlin, S.

    2014-01-01

    We examined livers and liver biopsies collected from captured sea otters in WPWS, 2001–2008, to determine whether indicators of liver health correlated with history of oil contamination from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Sea otters captured in oiled areas had a significantly higher proportion of livers with gross pathological change, based on visual inspection at the time of capture, than those from unoiled areas. Of the 10 histopathology variables scored on liver biopsies, only two (vacuolar change and pigment) differed between animals from oiled and unoiled areas, and neither correlated with gross pathology scores. Vacuolar change indicates physiological disturbance, which is consistent with potential effects from oil exposure but also could be influenced by a number of other factors. We concluded that, as of 2008, some differences in liver health were evident between sea otters from oiled and unoiled areas; these differences were consistent with, but not specific to, effects that might be expected with sublethal exposure to lingering Exxon Valdez oil. We also quantified variation in survival of radiomarked sea otters within oiled areas of WPWS in relation to age, sex, body condition, selected blood serum chemistry variables, and histological scores indicative of liver health. Of the variables considered, only the serum enzyme aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and the ratio of serum proteins albumin and globulin (A/G) were correlated with survival, with higher levels of AST and lower levels of A/G associated with increased likelihood of mortality. High AST and low A/G both may be indicative of liver disease. Taken together, results reported here suggest that liver health of sea otters in oiled areas was slightly poorer than those from unoiled areas and, ifurther, that this may have translated to poorer survival through 2008, nearly 2 decades after the spill. More recently collected information indicated that mortality patterns and abundance had returned to

  16. Technical report: Marine mammals study number 6. Movements of weanling and adult female sea otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, after the t/v Exxon Valdez oil spill. Marine mammal study 6-12. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Monnett, C.; Rotterman, L.M.

    1995-05-01

    Ninety-six adult female sea otters and 64 weanling sea otters were instrumented with implanted radio-transmitters in Prince William Sound during 1989-1990 and monitored until November, 1991. Observations of the movements of adult female and weanling sea otters in prince William Sound indicated no tendency for individuals to emigrate from, or immigrate to, the area affected by oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez. This finding indicates that the study groups of sea otters categorized as `western Prince William Sound oil-spill treatment` otters and `eastern Prince William Sound control` otters are indeed distinct groups of individuals. No tendency was observed for recently weaned sea otters to exhibit a preference for habitat units based on the likelihood that they would encounter spilled oil therein. Finally, data reported suggest that the recovery of the sea otter population in the oil spill affected region of Prince William Sound will likely be a direct function of the rates of survival and reproduction of the sea otters in the affected habitat with little or no influence from emigration or immigration.

  17. Immunomodulatory effects of organochlorine mixtures upon in vitro exposure of peripheral blood leukocytes differ between free-ranging and captive southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris).

    PubMed

    Levin, Milton; Leibrecht, Heather; Mori, Chiharu; Jessup, David; De Guise, Sylvain

    2007-10-15

    Organochlorines (OCs), notably polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), are ubiquitous environmental contaminants. Contaminant-induced immunosuppression by OCs has been implicated as a co-factor in the deaths of thousands of marine mammals in infectious disease epizootics over the last two decades, and limited studies support the hypothesis that PCBs are immunomodulatory. This study represented a unique opportunity to assess the potential differences in susceptibility to OCs between captive and free-ranging sea otters originating from the same genetic population. In vitro immune assays were utilized to evaluate both innate (phagocytosis and respiratory burst) and acquired (mitogen-induced B and T lymphocyte proliferation) immune functions. Individual PCBs (138, 153, 169 and 180) as well as TCDD and all 26 possible combinations were tested. Mixtures were tested as they represent 'real life' exposure. Our results suggest that (1) different immune functions were sensitive to different OC mixtures in both magnitude and direction (enhancement/suppression) and (2) differences in sensitivities upon in vitro exposure to OCs occurred between free-ranging and captive otters. Differences in susceptibility could be explained by the acute stress of capture, the chronic stress of captivity or nutritional differences. Understanding differences in toxicity to different populations of sea otters will have important implications for risk assessment as well as conservation and management strategies.

  18. A new pathogen transmission mechanism in the ocean: the case of sea otter exposure to the land-parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

    PubMed

    Mazzillo, Fernanda F M; Shapiro, Karen; Silver, Mary W

    2013-01-01

    Toxoplasma gondii is a land-derived parasite that infects humans and marine mammals. Infections are a significant cause of mortality for endangered southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), but the transmission mechanism is poorly understood. Otter exposure to T. gondii has been linked to the consumption of marine turban snails in kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests. It is unknown how turban snails acquire oocysts, as snails scrape food particles attached to surfaces, whereas T. gondii oocysts enter kelp beds as suspended particles via runoff. We hypothesized that waterborne T. gondii oocysts attach to kelp surfaces when encountering exopolymer substances (EPS) forming the sticky matrix of biofilms on kelp, and thus become available to snails. Results of a dietary composition analysis of field-collected snails and of kelp biofilm indicate that snails graze the dense kelp-biofilm assemblage composed of pennate diatoms and bacteria inserted within the EPS gel-like matrix. To test whether oocysts attach to kelp blades via EPS, we designed a laboratory experiment simulating the kelp forest canopy in tanks spiked with T. gondii surrogate microspheres and controlled for EPS and transparent exopolymer particles (TEP - the particulate form of EPS). On average, 19% and 31% of surrogates were detected attached to kelp surfaces covered with EPS in unfiltered and filtered seawater treatments, respectively. The presence of TEP in the seawater did not increase surrogate attachment. These findings support a novel transport mechanism of T. gondii oocysts: as oocysts enter the kelp forest canopy, a portion adheres to the sticky kelp biofilms. Snails grazing this biofilm encounter oocysts as 'bycatch' and thereby deliver the parasite to sea otters that prey upon snails. This novel mechanism can have health implications beyond T. gondii and otters, as a similar route of pathogen transmission may be implicated with other waterborne pathogens to marine wildlife and humans consuming

  19. Ultrastructural and molecular confirmation of the development of Sarcocystis neurona tissue cysts in the central nervous system of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis).

    PubMed

    Miller, M A; Barr, B C; Nordhausen, R; James, E R; Magargal, S L; Murray, M; Conrad, P A; Toy-Choutka, S; Jessup, D A; Grigg, M E

    2009-10-01

    In 2004, three wild sea otters were diagnosed with putative Sarcocystis neurona-associated meningoencephalitis by histopathology and immunohistochemistry. Schizonts, free merozoites and tissue cysts were observed in the brains of all three infected animals. Tissue cysts walls from sea otter 1 (SO1) stained positively using anti-S. neurona polyclonal antiserum. However, positive staining does not preclude infection by closely related or cross-reactive tissue cyst-forming coccidian parasites. Two immature tissue cysts in the brain of SO1 were examined using transmission electron microscopy. Ultrastructural features included cyst walls with thin villous projections up to 1 microm long with tapered ends and a distinctive, electron-dense outer lining layer composed of linearly-arranged, semi-circular structures with a "hobnailed" surface contour. Small numbers of microtubules extended down through the villi into the underlying granular layer. Metrocytes were short and plump with an anterior apical complex, 22 sub-pellicular microtubules, numerous free ribosomes and no rhoptries. Some metrocytes appeared to be dividing, with two adjacent nuclear profiles. Collectively these ultrastructural features were compatible with developing protozoal cysts and were similar to prior descriptions of S. neurona tissue cysts. Panspecific 18S rDNA primers were utilized to identify protozoa infecting the brains of these otters and DNA amplification and additional sequencing at the ITS1 locus confirmed that all three otters were infected with S. neurona. No other Sarcocystis spp. were detected in the brains or skeletal muscles of these animals by immunohistochemistry or PCR. We believe this is the first ultrastructural and molecular confirmation of the development of S. neurona tissue cysts in the CNS of any animal.

  20. A New Pathogen Transmission Mechanism in the Ocean: The Case of Sea Otter Exposure to the Land-Parasite Toxoplasma gondii

    PubMed Central

    Mazzillo, Fernanda F. M.; Shapiro, Karen; Silver, Mary W.

    2013-01-01

    Toxoplasma gondii is a land-derived parasite that infects humans and marine mammals. Infections are a significant cause of mortality for endangered southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), but the transmission mechanism is poorly understood. Otter exposure to T. gondii has been linked to the consumption of marine turban snails in kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests. It is unknown how turban snails acquire oocysts, as snails scrape food particles attached to surfaces, whereas T. gondii oocysts enter kelp beds as suspended particles via runoff. We hypothesized that waterborne T. gondii oocysts attach to kelp surfaces when encountering exopolymer substances (EPS) forming the sticky matrix of biofilms on kelp, and thus become available to snails. Results of a dietary composition analysis of field-collected snails and of kelp biofilm indicate that snails graze the dense kelp-biofilm assemblage composed of pennate diatoms and bacteria inserted within the EPS gel-like matrix. To test whether oocysts attach to kelp blades via EPS, we designed a laboratory experiment simulating the kelp forest canopy in tanks spiked with T. gondii surrogate microspheres and controlled for EPS and transparent exopolymer particles (TEP - the particulate form of EPS). On average, 19% and 31% of surrogates were detected attached to kelp surfaces covered with EPS in unfiltered and filtered seawater treatments, respectively. The presence of TEP in the seawater did not increase surrogate attachment. These findings support a novel transport mechanism of T. gondii oocysts: as oocysts enter the kelp forest canopy, a portion adheres to the sticky kelp biofilms. Snails grazing this biofilm encounter oocysts as ‘bycatch’ and thereby deliver the parasite to sea otters that prey upon snails. This novel mechanism can have health implications beyond T. gondii and otters, as a similar route of pathogen transmission may be implicated with other waterborne pathogens to marine wildlife and humans

  1. Ultrastructural and molecular confirmation of the development of Sarcocystis neurona tissue cysts in the central nervous system of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    PubMed Central

    Miller, M.A.; Barr, B.C.; Nordhausen, R.; James, E.R.; Magargal, S.L.; Murray, M.; Conrad, P.A.; Toy-Choutka, S.; Jessup, D.A.; Grigg, M.E.

    2009-01-01

    In 2004, three wild sea otters were diagnosed with putative Sarcocystis neurona-associated meningoencephalitis by histopathology and immunohistochemistry. Schizonts, free merozoites and tissue cysts were observed in the brains of all three infected animals. Tissue cysts from sea otter 1 (SO1) stained positively using anti-S. neurona polyclonal antiserum. However, positive staining does not preclude infection by closely related or cross-reactive tissue cyst-forming coccidian parasites. Two immature tissue cysts in the brain of SO1 were examined using transmission electron microscopy. Ultrastructural features included cyst walls with thin villous projections up to 1 μm long with tapered ends and a distinctive, electron-dense outer lining layer composed of linearly-arranged, semi-circular structures with a “hobnailed” surface contour. Small numbers of microtubules extended down through the villi into the underlying granular layer. Metrocytes were short and plump with an anterior apical complex, 22 subpellicular microtubules, numerous free ribosomes and no rhoptries. Some metrocytes appeared to be dividing, with two adjacent nuclear profiles. Collectively these ultrastructural features were compatible with developing protozoal cysts and were similar to prior descriptions of S. neurona tissue cysts. Panspecific 18S rDNA primers were utilized to identify protozoa infecting the brains of these otters and DNA amplification and additional sequencing at the ITS1 locus confirmed that all three otters were infected with S. neurona. No other Sarcocystis spp. were detected in the brains or skeletal muscles of these animals by immunohistochemistry or PCR. We believe this is the first ultrastructural and molecular confirmation of the development of S. neurona tissue cysts in the CNS of any animal. PMID:19527725

  2. Limited genetic diversity among Sarcocystis neurona strains infecting southern sea otters precludes distinction between marine and terrestrial isolates

    PubMed Central

    Wendte, J.M.; Miller, M.A.; Nandra, A.K.; Peat, S.M.; Crosbie, P.R.; Conrad, P.A.; Grigg, M.E.

    2010-01-01

    Sarcocystis neurona is an apicomplexan parasite identified as a cause of fatal neurological disease in the threatened southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). In an effort to characterize virulent S. neurona strains circulating in the marine ecosystem, this study developed a range of markers relevant for molecular genotyping. Highly conserved sequences within the 18S ribosomal gene array, the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase (RPOb) and the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 mitochondrial gene (CO1) were assessed for their ability to distinguish isolates at the genus and species level. For within-species comparisons, five surface antigens (SnSAG1-SnSAG5) and one high resolution microsatellite marker (Sn9) were developed as genotyping markers to evaluate intra-strain diversity. Molecular analysis at multiple loci revealed insufficient genetic diversity to distinguish terrestrial isolates from strains infecting marine mammals. Furthermore, SnSAG specific primers applied against DNA from the closely related species, Sarcocystis falcatula, lead to the discovery of highly similar orthologs to SnSAG2, 3, and 4, calling into question the specificity of diagnostic tests based on these antigens. The results of this study suggest a population genetic structure for S. neurona similar to that reported for the related parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, dominated by a limited number of successful genotypes. PMID:20071081

  3. Limited genetic diversity among Sarcocystis neurona strains infecting southern sea otters precludes distinction between marine and terrestrial isolates.

    PubMed

    Wendte, J M; Miller, M A; Nandra, A K; Peat, S M; Crosbie, P R; Conrad, P A; Grigg, M E

    2010-04-19

    Sarcocystis neurona is an apicomplexan parasite identified as a cause of fatal neurological disease in the threatened southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). In an effort to characterize virulent S. neurona strains circulating in the marine ecosystem, this study developed a range of markers relevant for molecular genotyping. Highly conserved sequences within the 18S ribosomal gene array, the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase (RPOb) and the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 mitochondrial gene (CO1) were assessed for their ability to distinguish isolates at the genus and species level. For within-species comparisons, five surface antigens (SnSAG1-SnSAG5) and one high resolution microsatellite marker (Sn9) were developed as genotyping markers to evaluate intra-strain diversity. Molecular analysis at multiple loci revealed insufficient genetic diversity to distinguish terrestrial isolates from strains infecting marine mammals. Furthermore, SnSAG specific primers applied against DNA from the closely related species, Sarcocystis falcatula, lead to the discovery of highly similar orthologs to SnSAG2, 3, and 4, calling into question the specificity of diagnostic tests based on these antigens. The results of this study suggest a population genetic structure for S. neurona similar to that reported for the related parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, dominated by a limited number of successful genotypes.

  4. Biomarkers of damage to sea otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, following potential exposure to oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez. Marine mammal study 6-1. Exxon Valdez oil spill state/federal natural resource damage assessment final report

    SciTech Connect

    Ballachey, B.E.

    1995-05-01

    The study was conducted to evaluate several biomarkers of genotoxic damage in sea otters that had potentially been exposed to oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez. Thirteen adult male sea otters were captured in eastern (unoiled) Prince William Sound, and 14 in western (oiled) Prince William Sound in September and October 1991. Blood lymphocytes, sperm and testicular cells were collected from the otters for flow cytometric analyses to measure: (1) DNA content of lymphocytes, (2) nuclear chromatin structure of sperm, and (3) subpopulations of cell types in the testis. Additionally, sperm cells were examined by light microscopy for morphological abnormalities. The DNA content of blood lymphocytes from sea otters in the oiled vs. unoiled areas was not significantly different, although there was greater variation among samples from the oiled area. One measure of sperm cell quality was poorer for male sea otters from the unoiled area, and may have been associated with differences in the age and breeding status of the two groups sampled. Other measures of sperm and testicular cells did not differ between areas.

  5. Improved reproductive success in otters (Lutra lutra), grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) from Sweden in relation to concentrations of organochlorine contaminants.

    PubMed

    Roos, Anna M; Bäcklin, Britt-Marie V M; Helander, Björn O; Rigét, Frank F; Eriksson, Ulla C

    2012-11-01

    We studied indices of reproductive outcome in three aquatic species in relation to organochlorine concentrations during four decades. In female otters, the frequency of signs of reproduction increased after 1990. In grey seals, pregnancy rate increased 1990-2010 and uterine obstructions ceased after 1993. The frequency of uterine tumours was highest 1980-2000. The number of sea eagle nestlings per checked nest increased 1985-2000, while the frequency of desiccated eggs decreased. Organochlorine concentrations decreased at annual rates between 3.5 and 10.2%. The estimated mean concentration (mg/kg lw) for total-PCB decreased from 70 to 8 (otters), from 110 to 15 (seals) and from 955 to 275 (eagles). The corresponding concentrations for ΣDDT decreased from 3.4 to 0.2 (otters), from 192 to 2.8 (seals) and from 865 to 65 (eagles). This study adds evidence to support the hypothesis that PCBs and DDTs have had strong negative effects on the reproduction and population levels of these species.

  6. Quantifying Population-Level Risks Using an Individual-Based Model: Sea Otters, Harlequin Ducks, and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

    PubMed Central

    Harwell, Mark A; Gentile, John H; Parker, Keith R

    2012-01-01

    Ecological risk assessments need to advance beyond evaluating risks to individuals that are largely based on toxicity studies conducted on a few species under laboratory conditions, to assessing population-level risks to the environment, including considerations of variability and uncertainty. Two individual-based models (IBMs), recently developed to assess current risks to sea otters and seaducks in Prince William Sound more than 2 decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), are used to explore population-level risks. In each case, the models had previously shown that there were essentially no remaining risks to individuals from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) derived from the EVOS. New sensitivity analyses are reported here in which hypothetical environmental exposures to PAHs were heuristically increased until assimilated doses reached toxicity reference values (TRVs) derived at the no-observed-adverse-effects and lowest-observed-adverse-effects levels (NOAEL and LOAEL, respectively). For the sea otters, this was accomplished by artificially increasing the number of sea otter pits that would intersect remaining patches of subsurface oil residues by orders of magnitude over actual estimated rates. Similarly, in the seaduck assessment, the PAH concentrations in the constituents of diet, sediments, and seawater were increased in proportion to their relative contributions to the assimilated doses by orders of magnitude over measured environmental concentrations, to reach the NOAEL and LOAEL thresholds. The stochastic IBMs simulated millions of individuals. From these outputs, frequency distributions were derived of assimilated doses for populations of 500 000 sea otters or seaducks in each of 7 or 8 classes, respectively. Doses to several selected quantiles were analyzed, ranging from the 1-in-1000th most-exposed individuals (99.9% quantile) to the median-exposed individuals (50% quantile). The resulting families of quantile curves provide the basis for

  7. Quantifying population-level risks using an individual-based model: sea otters, Harlequin Ducks, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    PubMed

    Harwell, Mark A; Gentile, John H; Parker, Keith R

    2012-07-01

    Ecological risk assessments need to advance beyond evaluating risks to individuals that are largely based on toxicity studies conducted on a few species under laboratory conditions, to assessing population-level risks to the environment, including considerations of variability and uncertainty. Two individual-based models (IBMs), recently developed to assess current risks to sea otters and seaducks in Prince William Sound more than 2 decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), are used to explore population-level risks. In each case, the models had previously shown that there were essentially no remaining risks to individuals from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) derived from the EVOS. New sensitivity analyses are reported here in which hypothetical environmental exposures to PAHs were heuristically increased until assimilated doses reached toxicity reference values (TRVs) derived at the no-observed-adverse-effects and lowest-observed-adverse-effects levels (NOAEL and LOAEL, respectively). For the sea otters, this was accomplished by artificially increasing the number of sea otter pits that would intersect remaining patches of subsurface oil residues by orders of magnitude over actual estimated rates. Similarly, in the seaduck assessment, the PAH concentrations in the constituents of diet, sediments, and seawater were increased in proportion to their relative contributions to the assimilated doses by orders of magnitude over measured environmental concentrations, to reach the NOAEL and LOAEL thresholds. The stochastic IBMs simulated millions of individuals. From these outputs, frequency distributions were derived of assimilated doses for populations of 500,000 sea otters or seaducks in each of 7 or 8 classes, respectively. Doses to several selected quantiles were analyzed, ranging from the 1-in-1000th most-exposed individuals (99.9% quantile) to the median-exposed individuals (50% quantile). The resulting families of quantile curves provide the basis for

  8. Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bentall, Gena B.; Rosen, Barry H.; Kunz, Jessica M.; Miller, Melissa A.; Saunders, Gary W.; LaRoche, Nicole L.

    2016-01-01

    Ecological associations between epibionts (organisms that live on the surface of another living organism) and vertebrates have been documented in both marine and terrestrial environments, and may be opportunistic, commensal, or symbiotic (Lewin et al. 1981, Holmes 1985, Allen et al. 1993, Bledsoe et al. 2006, Pfaller et al. 2008, Suutari et al. 2010). Although epibiont proliferation is frequently reported on slow-moving, sparsely haired organisms such as manatees and sloths, reports from densely furred, highly mobile mammals are much less common. There are reports of epizoic algae for several species of pinnipeds (Kenyon and Rice 1959, Scheffer 1962, Baldridge 1977, Allen et al. 1993), which rely to varying degrees on both pelage and blubber for thermoregulation, but the phenomenon has not been widely described. Scheffer (1962) noted that red algae was fairly common on the pelage of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus), pinnipeds for which fur likely makes a comparatively high contribution to thermoregulation (Donohue et al. 2000). For species with pelage that plays a critical role of thermal insulation, it seems implausible that an epibiont would persist on healthy individuals that devote significant energy resources toward grooming and actively maintaining their coat. Biological characteristics of epibiont settlement and attachment, and physiological requirements of epizoic species play key roles in their successful colonization and potential host impacts. To investigate this relationship, we explore a novel discovery of an epizoic alga from southern sea otters, including describing algal development on sea otter hair and molecular identification of the algae.

  9. Diagnosis and seroprevalence of leptospirosis in California sea lions from coastal California.

    PubMed

    Colagross-Schouten, Angela M; Mazet, Jonna A K; Gulland, Frances M D; Miller, Melissa A; Hietala, Sharon

    2002-01-01

    The sensitivity and specificity of the microscopic agglutination test (MAT) as a method for detection of exposure to Leptospira spp. in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) were determined. Sera came from individuals that demonstrated clinical signs of renal disease, had lesions suggestive of leptospirosis at necropsy, and had visible leptospires in silver stained kidney sections as positive controls. Sera from unexposed captive individuals were used as negative controls. The test was 100% sensitive at 1:3,200 for confirming renal infection and 100% specific at negative < 1:100 for detection of Leptospira interrogans scrovar pomona antibodies by MAT in California sea lions. Leptospira interrogans serovar pomona was used as a screening serovar because it has been isolated previously from the kidneys and placentas of California sea lions, and there appears to be cross-reactivity between serovar pomona and other serovars. Sera from 225 free-ranging California sea lions presented to one of three participating California (USA) coastal marine mammal rehabilitation centers in 1996 were then evaluated for antibodies to serovar pomona using the MAT. The overall seroprevalence was 38.2% (86/225), although the prevalence varied among locations from 100% (38/38) in animals at the Marine Mammal Care Center (Fort MacArthur, California, USA) to 0% (0/14) at SeaWorld California (San Diego, California). At The Marine Mammal Center (Sausalito, California) [prevalence 27.8% (48/173)], the majority of seropositive animals were subadults and adults, and males were 4.7 times more likely to be seropositive to serovar pomona than females. When combining results from all three centers, subadult and adult animals were more likely to be seropositive than pups and juvenile sea lions, and the highest proportion of seropositive animals presented during the autumn months. Serum elevations of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, phosphorus, and/or calcium were associated with seropositivity

  10. Demographic responses to sea level rise in California

    SciTech Connect

    Constable, A. |; Van Arsdol, M.D. Jr.; Sherman, D.J.; Wang, J.; McMullin-Messier, P.A.; Rollin, L.

    1996-12-31

    Human consequences of sea level rise in California coastal counties reflect increasing population densities. Populations of coastal counties potentially affected by sea level rise are projected to increase from 26.2 million persons in 1990 to 63.3 million persons in 2040. Urbanization dominates Los Angeles and the South Coast and San Francisco Bay and Delta regions. California shoreline populations subject to potential disruption impacts of sea level rise are increasing rapidly. Enhanced risk zones for sea level rise are specified for the Oxnard Plain of Ventura County on the south coast of California. Four separate sea level rise scenarios are considered: (1) low (sea level rise only); (2) moderate (adding erosion); (3) high (adding erosion and storm surges); and (4) a maximum case, a 3 m enhanced risk zone. Population impacts are outlined for the 3 m zone. More serious impacts from storm surges are expected than from sea level rise and erosion. Stakeholders who support or oppose policies which may expose populations to sea level rise include energy, commercial, financial, industrial, public agency, private interest and governmental organizations. These organizations respond to extreme events from differing positions. Vested interests determine the degree of mitigation employed by stakeholders to defer impacts of sea level rise.

  11. The fecal viral flora of California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Li, Linlin; Shan, Tongling; Wang, Chunlin; Côté, Colette; Kolman, John; Onions, David; Gulland, Frances M D; Delwart, Eric

    2011-10-01

    California sea lions are one of the major marine mammal species along the Pacific coast of North America. Sea lions are susceptible to a wide variety of viruses, some of which can be transmitted to or from terrestrial mammals. Using an unbiased viral metagenomic approach, we surveyed the fecal virome in California sea lions of different ages and health statuses. Averages of 1.6 and 2.5 distinct mammalian viral species were shed by pups and juvenile sea lions, respectively. Previously undescribed mammalian viruses from four RNA virus families (Astroviridae, Picornaviridae, Caliciviridae, and Reoviridae) and one DNA virus family (Parvoviridae) were characterized. The first complete or partial genomes of sapeloviruses, sapoviruses, noroviruses, and bocavirus in marine mammals are reported. Astroviruses and bocaviruses showed the highest prevalence and abundance in California sea lion feces. The diversity of bacteriophages was higher in unweaned sea lion pups than in juveniles and animals in rehabilitation, where the phage community consisted largely of phages related to the family Microviridae. This study increases our understanding of the viral diversity in marine mammals, highlights the high rate of enteric viral infections in these highly social carnivores, and may be used as a baseline viral survey for comparison with samples from California sea lions during unexplained disease outbreaks.

  12. The Fecal Viral Flora of California Sea Lions▿†

    PubMed Central

    Li, Linlin; Shan, Tongling; Wang, Chunlin; Côté, Colette; Kolman, John; Onions, David; Gulland, Frances M. D.; Delwart, Eric

    2011-01-01

    California sea lions are one of the major marine mammal species along the Pacific coast of North America. Sea lions are susceptible to a wide variety of viruses, some of which can be transmitted to or from terrestrial mammals. Using an unbiased viral metagenomic approach, we surveyed the fecal virome in California sea lions of different ages and health statuses. Averages of 1.6 and 2.5 distinct mammalian viral species were shed by pups and juvenile sea lions, respectively. Previously undescribed mammalian viruses from four RNA virus families (Astroviridae, Picornaviridae, Caliciviridae, and Reoviridae) and one DNA virus family (Parvoviridae) were characterized. The first complete or partial genomes of sapeloviruses, sapoviruses, noroviruses, and bocavirus in marine mammals are reported. Astroviruses and bocaviruses showed the highest prevalence and abundance in California sea lion feces. The diversity of bacteriophages was higher in unweaned sea lion pups than in juveniles and animals in rehabilitation, where the phage community consisted largely of phages related to the family Microviridae. This study increases our understanding of the viral diversity in marine mammals, highlights the high rate of enteric viral infections in these highly social carnivores, and may be used as a baseline viral survey for comparison with samples from California sea lions during unexplained disease outbreaks. PMID:21795334

  13. California Sea Cliff Metrics: Mapping and Validation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Palaseanu, M.; Thatcher, C.; Danielson, J.; Logan, J. B.; Foxgrover, A. C.; Brock, J. C.; Barnard, P.

    2015-12-01

    Seacliff erosion is a serious hazard with implications for coastal management, and is often estimated using successive hand digitized cliff tops or bases (toe) to assess cliff retreat. We developed an automated procedure to extract the location of the cliff top from high resolution lidar-derived digital elevation models using transects generated at approximately 1-m intervals. The automated method to define cliff tops is repeatable, takes advantage of detailed topographic information within high-resolution elevation data, and is more efficient than hand-digitizing. To validate the results obtained from a 2010 aerial lidar survey, we conducted a terrestrial lidar (tlidar) survey at Bonny Doon beach near Santa Cruz California in 2014 and mapped the location of the cliff tops using real-time kinematic GPS. Bonny Doon beach has highly irregular cliffs, with several small sea caves and erosion features that were not distinguishable in the aerial lidar digital terrain model (DTM). We extracted the location of the cliff top from the tlidar point cloud along the same transects used previously to automatically derive cliff tops from the aerial lidar derived DTM. The minimum horizontal distance between the tlidar derived cliff top points and GPS points was calculated. The error measurements between GPS and terrestrial lidar are 0.19 m mean absolute error (MAE) and 0.51 m root mean square error (RMSE) respectively. The MAE and the RMSE between the GPS and aerial lidar cliff top points were 0.96 and 1.82 m respectively. The larger errors between aerial lidar cliff top points and GPS are likely due to the failure to remove all vegetation from the aerial lidar data, the positional accuracy of the aerial lidar, and a 4-year gap between surveys. The error assessment indicates that the automated procedure mapped the cliff top location successfully using both the aerial and terrestrial lidar, although the cliff top delineation based on the tlidar data was more accurate.

  14. Winter marine bird and sea otter abundance of Prince William Sound, Alaska: Trends following the t/v Exxon Valdez oil spill from 1990-94. Restoration project 94159. Exxon Valdez oil spill restoration project final report

    SciTech Connect

    Agler, B.A.; Seiser, P.E.; Kendall, S.J.; Irons, D.B.

    1995-05-01

    We conducted small boat surveys to determine population abundance of marine birds and sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in Prince William Sound, Alaska during March 1994. We observed 45 bird and 8 mammal species in Prince William Sound, and we estimated that 320,470 + or - 63,640 marine birds were present. We estimated trends in the March population estimates from 1990-94 by determining whether estimates in the oiled zone changed at the same rate as those in the unoiled zone. For Prince William Sound as a whole, we also examined the population trends from 1990-94 using regression analyses. We found significant positive trends for harlequin duck (Histrionicus), goldeneye, merganser, bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) and gull (Larus and Rissa spp.) populations. We also examined the relative abundance of marine bird species groups from 1972 to 1994. During March 1994, we estimated that the sea otter population was 7,746 + or - 2,073 otters. We found no difference in the rate of change between the oiled and unoiled zones from 1990-94, and there was no significant trend in the total number of sea otters in Prince William Sound from 1990-94.

  15. Successfully treated dermatomycosis in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Sós, Endre; Molnár, Viktor; Lajos, Zoltán; Koroknai, Viktória; Gál, János

    2013-06-01

    We describe clinical cases caused by Microsporum gypseum in two subadult male California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Dermatomycosis is uncommonly reported in pinnipeds, including this species. In these cases, skin lesions were multifocal to coalescing, involved all flippers, and were most pronounced on the ventral surfaces of flippers. They were well-demarcated, depigmented, and covered with crusts. The definitive diagnosis was obtained through microscopic examination and fungal culture of skin scrapings. Oral terbinafine and topical enilconazole were used as treatments for 65 days, and complete recovery was subsequently achieved. California sea lion, dermatomycosis, Microsporum gypseum, terbinafine, enilconazole

  16. An estimation of carrying capacity for sea otters along the California coast

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Laidre, K.L.; Jameson, R.J.; DeMaster, D.P.

    2001-01-01

    Eggs of wild birds collected for the purpose of measuring concentrations of pesticides or other pollutants vary from nearly fresh to nearly dry so that objective comparisons cannot be made on the basis of weight of the contents at the time of collection. Residue concentrations in the nearly dry eggs can be greatly exaggerated by this artifact. Valid interpretation of residue data depends upon compensation for these losses. A method is presented for making adjustments on the basis of volume of the egg, and formulas are derived for estimating the volume of eggs of eagles, ospreys, and pelicans from egg measurements. The possibility of adjustments on the basis of percentage of moisture, solids, or fat in fresh eggs is discussed also.

  17. Population dynamics of California sea otters and a model for the risk of oil spills

    SciTech Connect

    Brody, A.J.

    1988-01-01

    In an effort to estimate parameters in the density dependence function used in the simulation model, an analysis of the recent historical growth and range expansion of the population was undertaken. Simple deterministic models that included feedback between population growth and range expansion were built, some including a density independent mortality rate after 1972 to investigate the effect of incidental drowning in fishing-nets. Analysis of model output indicated that the density dependence function in the actual population is probably very rectangular. Range length may hamper the dispersal of young males out of the central part of the range. The apparent decline in population in the 1970's may be due to this slowing range expansion coinciding with the onset of fishing-net mortality.

  18. Sea level at southern california: a decadal fluctuation.

    PubMed

    Namias, J; Chi Kan Huang, J

    1972-07-28

    The winter mean height of sea level at southern California rose 5.6 centimeters between the periods 1948-1957 and 1958-1969. These periods correspond to two fairly coherent large-scale climatic regimes with different air-sea coupling, which were previously identified. The rise was mainly due to a change in the thermohaline structure of the water as a result of changes in prevailing winds.

  19. Diagnostic testing for Leptospirosis in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Leptospirosis is a relatively common bacterial disease in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus); however, there remain gaps in our understanding of maintenance hosts relative to animals demonstrating clinical disease. To effectively study the epidemiology of leptospirosis in any species, a s...

  20. Sea Grant in California: Twenty Years of Achievement.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Amidei, Rosemary

    Since 1968, the California Sea Grant program has operated to produce scientific research oriented to solving problems in marine resource development, management, and conservation. This document decribes the facets of this program, their accomplishments and goals. Discussions include: (1) historical notes; (2) coastal governance; (3) coastal…

  1. Sea Floor off San Diego, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Dartnell, Peter; Gibbons, Helen

    2009-01-01

    Ocean-floor image generated from multibeam-bathymetry data acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Scripps Institution of Oceanography; California State University, Monterey Bay; and Fugro Pelagos. To learn more, visit http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/2007/2959/.

  2. Trace elements and pesticides in Salton Sea area, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Schroeder, Roy A.; Setmire, James G.; Wolfe, John C.

    1988-01-01

    Concentrations of numerous potentially toxic trace elements and pesticides were determined in water, sediment, and biota from the Salton Sea area in southestern California. Comparison of results with data from other studies in this area and from other areas, and with various water-quality standards or criteria, indicate that selenium probably is the principal contaminant of concern in the Salton Sea basin and that it probably is related to agricultural practices. Selenium is mobilized in the subsurface drainwater produced by agricultural irrigation and transported in ditches and rivers, some of which pass through or near the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge before entering the Salton Sea. Some selenium apparently is incorporated into the food chain. In response to the finding of elevated selenium residues in fish from the area by State agencies, the Imperial County Health Department has issued a health advisory restricting or prohibiting human consumption of fish from the Salton Sea and drains.

  3. Marine bird and sea otter population abundance of Prince william sound, Alaska: Trends following the t/v Exxon Valdez oil spill, 1989-93. Restoration project 93045. Exxon Valdez oil spill restoration project final report

    SciTech Connect

    Agler, B.A.; Seiser, P.E.; Kendall, S.J.; Irons, D.B.

    1994-05-01

    We conducted small boat surveys to estimate marine bird and sea otter (Enhdra lutris) populations in Prince William Sound, Alaska during March and July 1993, using methods developed for the 1989-91 surveys (Klosiewski and Laing 1994). During 1993, we recorded 65 birds and 13 mammal species. We estimated that 402,760 + or - 167,697 marine birds were in the Sound during March 1993, an increase of >200,000 birds over 1990 and 1991. To examine trends in our marine bird population estimates from 1989-93, we assumed that in the absence of oil spill effects, population estimates in the oiled zone would change at the same rate as those in the unoiled zone. For Prince William Sound as a whole, we examined population trends from 1989-1993, using regression analyses. We also examined the relative abundance of the species groups seen in Prince William Sound from 1972 to 1993. Sea otter populations in 1993 were estimated at 6,813 + or - 1,861 for March and 8,216 + or - 2,435 for July. We found no difference in the rate of change between the oiled and unoiled zones from 1989-93 for either the March or July population estimates. There was no significant trend in the total number of sea otters in Prince William Sound from 1989-93.

  4. Phylogenomic characterization of California sea lion adenovirus-1.

    PubMed

    Cortés-Hinojosa, Galaxia; Gulland, Frances M D; Goldstein, Tracey; Venn-Watson, Stephanie; Rivera, Rebecca; Waltzek, Thomas B; Salemi, Marco; Wellehan, James F X

    2015-04-01

    Significant adenoviral diversity has been found in humans, but in domestic and wild animals the number of identified viruses is lower. Here we present the complete genome of a recently discovered mastadenovirus, California sea lion adenovirus 1 (CSLAdV-1) isolated from California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), an important pathogen associated with hepatitis in pinnipeds. The genome of this virus has the typical mastadenoviral structure with some notable differences at the carboxy-terminal end, including a dUTPase that does not cluster with other mastadenoviral dUTPases, and a fiber that shows similarity to a trans-sialidase of Trypanosoma cruzi and choline-binding protein A (CbpA) of Streptococcus pneumoniae. The GC content is low (36%), and phylogenetic analyses placed the virus near the root of the clade infecting laurasiatherian hosts in the genus Mastadenovirus. These findings support the hypothesis that CSLAdV-1 in California sea lions represents a host jump from an unknown mammalian host in which it is endemic.

  5. Integrated Science Investigations of the Salton Sea, California, USA

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barnum, D.

    2006-12-01

    The Salton Sea is the latest waterbody to be formed by Colorado River floodwaters within the Salton Trough. Over the past 100 years, floodwaters have been replaced by agricultural drainage water and municipal discharges so that today, most of the water reaching the Salton Sea is agricultural drainwater flowing down the New, Alamo and Whitewater Rivers. An evaporation of about 6 feet per year and inputs of more than 4 million tons of salt per year have increased salinity of the waters of the Salton Sea. The current salinity level of approximately 46 parts per thousand is about 25% more saline than ocean water. Diverting water from the Imperial Valley agricultural lands to urban Southern California, and anticipated loss of inflows from Mexico and increasing water conservation activities will result in less water flowing into the Salton Sea. A Restoration Program is being conducted to evaluate the effects of diminished inflows on the Salton Sea Ecosystem and recommend alternatives to avoid or minimize those effects. The Salton Sea has become increasingly important as habitat for migratory birds because of wetland losses. California has lost approximately 91% of interior wetland acreage from pre-settlement until the mid-1980's. The Salton Sea provides critical habitat linking distant wetlands of Pacific and Central Flyways to wintering habitats in Mexico and Central and South America. More than 400 species of birds have been observed in the Salton Sea Ecosystem. Large percentages of the populations for several bird species such as the endangered Yuma Clapper Rail, the Eared Grebe, Snowy Plover and American White Pelican utilize the Salton Sea. Approximately 20 species of conservation concern utilize the Salton Sea ecosystem. Fish-eating birds such as Great Blue Herons, California Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants and several species of egrets are highly dependent upon the fishery of the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea fishery is now primarily comprised of tilapia

  6. Risk factors for an outbreak of leptospirosis in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in California, 2004.

    PubMed

    Norman, Stephanie A; DiGiacomo, Ronald F; Gulland, Frances M D; Meschke, John Scott; Lowry, Mark S

    2008-10-01

    Leptospirosis has been reported in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) since 1970; however, the source of infection and mode of transmission remain unknown. To elucidate these features, demographic and environmental risk factors for leptospirosis were evaluated. California sea lion stranding records from northern California for 2004 were used to identify cases of leptospirosis (n = 316) and controls (n = 143). Demographic characteristics (age class, sex) and environmental factors, representing surrogates for exposure to dogs, cattle, rainfall, and freshwater sources, were compared between cases and controls with the use of a geographic information system (GIS) and logistic regression. Multivariate analyses revealed that summer and autumn seasons, juvenile age class, male sex, high dog-park density, and close proximity to dog parks were significantly associated with leptospirosis in sea lions, whereas county farmland cattle density, rainfall levels 30 days prior to stranding, human density, and proximity to freshwater sources were not associated. Thus, dogs and dog parks, or factors associated with them, might be further investigated to assess their relationship to leptospirosis in sea lions.

  7. Views of the Sea Floor in Northern Monterey Bay, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Storlazzi, Curt D.; Golden, Nadine E.; Finlayson, David P.

    2008-01-01

    A sonar survey that produced unprecedented high-resolution images of the sea floor in northern Monterey Bay was conducted in 2005 and 2006. The survey, performed over 14 days by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), consisted of 172 tracklines and over 300 million soundings and covered an area of 12.2 km2 (4.7 mi2). The goals of this survey were to collect high-resolution bathymetry (depth to the sea floor) and acoustic backscatter data (amount of sound energy bounced back from the sea floor, which provides information on sea-floor hardness and texture) from the inner continental shelf. These data will provide a baseline for future change analyses, geologic mapping, sediment- and contaminant-transport studies, benthic-habitat delineation, and numerical modeling efforts. The survey shows that the inner shelf in this area is extremely varied in nature, encompassing flat sandy areas, faults, boulder fields, and complex bedrock ridges that support rich marine ecosystems. Furthermore, many of these complex bedrock ridges form the ?reefs? that result in a number of California?s classic surf breaks.

  8. Lateralised swimming behaviour in the California sea lion.

    PubMed

    Wells, Deborah L; Irwin, Rosie M; Hepper, Peter G

    2006-07-01

    Lateralised motor behaviour in the pinnipeds has been subject to little investigation. This study examined the swimming behaviour of seven zoo-housed California sea lions to determine whether they exhibited a directional bias in their motor behaviour. Data were collected on the direction of the animals' swimming patterns from the point of entering a pool of water from dry land. Each animal was studied for 100 episodes of swimming. All seven of the sea lions showed significant (P<0.001) bias in the direction of their swimming, although unidirectional bias was not observed at the level of the population. The direction of the sea lions' swimming patterns varied significantly according to the animals' sex. Males showed a preference at the level of the population for swimming in a clockwise direction, while females showed a population-level counterclockwise swimming preference. Overall, the findings appear to suggest that California sea lions, like other marine mammals, exhibit motor bias in the direction of their swimming patterns, although further work using larger sample sizes is needed before more firm conclusions regarding motor laterality in this species can be reached.

  9. Tissue heavy metal concentrations of stranded California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in Southern California.

    PubMed

    Harper, Erin R; St Leger, Judy A; Westberg, Jody A; Mazzaro, Lisa; Schmitt, Todd; Reidarson, Tom H; Tucker, Melinda; Cross, Dee H; Puschner, Birgit

    2007-06-01

    Concentrations of nine heavy metals (As, Cd, Cu, Fe, Hg, Pb, Mn, Mo and Zn) were determined in the hepatic and renal tissues of 80 stranded California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Significant age-dependant increases were observed in liver and kidney concentrations of cadmium and mercury, and renal zinc concentrations. Hepatic iron concentrations were significantly higher in females than males. Animals with suspected domoic acid associated pathological findings had significantly higher concentrations of liver and kidney cadmium; and significantly higher liver mercury concentrations when compared to animals classified with infectious disease or traumatic mortality. Significantly higher hepatic burdens of molybdenum and zinc were found in animals that died from infectious diseases. This is the largest study of tissue heavy metal concentrations in California sea lions to date. These data demonstrate how passive monitoring of stranded animals can provide insight into environmental impacts on marine mammals.

  10. Personality dimensions of the captive California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Ciardelli, Lillian E; Weiss, Alexander; Powell, David M; Reiss, Diana

    2017-02-01

    Although the field of animal personality research is growing, information on sea lion personality is lacking. This is surprising as sea lions are charismatic, cognitively advanced, and relatively accessible for research. In addition, their presence in captivity and frequent interactions with humans allow for them to be closely observed in various contexts. These interactions provide a valuable and unique opportunity to assess dimensions of their personality. This study created a personality survey for captive California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) using a 3-step approach that balances comprehensiveness and comparability to other species. Zookeepers (N = 43) at 5 zoological parks rated sea lions (N = 16) on 52 personality traits and 7 training traits. A principal components analysis and regularized exploratory factor analysis revealed 3 dimensions (Extraversion/Impulsivity, Dominance/Confidence, and Reactivity/Undependability). Each dimension was significantly correlated with at least 1 training trait. Pups and juveniles scored significantly higher on Extraversion/Impulsivity than adults. No other age or sex effects were present on this or any other dimension. Sea lions are cognitively complex marine mammals that represent a valuable addition to the group of species in which personality structure and function have been studied. The unique behavioral and ecological characteristics of sea lions offer another vantage point for understanding how personality varies between disparate species. (PsycINFO Database Record

  11. Sea level, paleogeography, and archeology on California's Northern Channel Islands

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reeder-Myers, Leslie; Erlandson, Jon M.; Muhs, Daniel R.; Rick, Torben C.

    2015-01-01

    Sea-level rise during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene inundated nearshore areas in many parts of the world, producing drastic changes in local ecosystems and obscuring significant portions of the archeological record. Although global forces are at play, the effects of sea-level rise are highly localized due to variability in glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) effects. Interpretations of coastal paleoecology and archeology require reliable estimates of ancient shorelines that account for GIA effects. Here we build on previous models for California's Northern Channel Islands, producing more accurate late Pleistocene and Holocene paleogeographic reconstructions adjusted for regional GIA variability. This region has contributed significantly to our understanding of early New World coastal foragers. Sea level that was about 80–85 m lower than present at the time of the first known human occupation brought about a landscape and ecology substantially different than today. During the late Pleistocene, large tracts of coastal lowlands were exposed, while a colder, wetter climate and fluctuating marine conditions interacted with rapidly evolving littoral environments. At the close of the Pleistocene and start of the Holocene, people in coastal California faced shrinking land, intertidal, and subtidal zones, with important implications for resource availability and distribution.

  12. Sea level, paleogeography, and archeology on California's Northern Channel Islands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Reeder-Myers, Leslie; Erlandson, Jon M.; Muhs, Daniel R.; Rick, Torben C.

    2015-03-01

    Sea-level rise during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene inundated nearshore areas in many parts of the world, producing drastic changes in local ecosystems and obscuring significant portions of the archeological record. Although global forces are at play, the effects of sea-level rise are highly localized due to variability in glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) effects. Interpretations of coastal paleoecology and archeology require reliable estimates of ancient shorelines that account for GIA effects. Here we build on previous models for California's Northern Channel Islands, producing more accurate late Pleistocene and Holocene paleogeographic reconstructions adjusted for regional GIA variability. This region has contributed significantly to our understanding of early New World coastal foragers. Sea level that was about 80-85 m lower than present at the time of the first known human occupation brought about a landscape and ecology substantially different than today. During the late Pleistocene, large tracts of coastal lowlands were exposed, while a colder, wetter climate and fluctuating marine conditions interacted with rapidly evolving littoral environments. At the close of the Pleistocene and start of the Holocene, people in coastal California faced shrinking land, intertidal, and subtidal zones, with important implications for resource availability and distribution.

  13. Antibodies against Leptospira interrogans in California sea lion pups from Gulf of California.

    PubMed

    Godínez, C R; Zelaya de Romillo, B; Aurioles-Gamboa, D; Verdugo-Rodríguez, A; Rodríguez-Reyes, E A; De la Peña-Moctezuma, A

    1999-01-01

    One hundred and twenty-five serum samples from California sea lion (Zalophus californianus californianus) pups, and one from an adult female from eight reproductive rookeries located in seven islands in the Gulf of California (Mexico), were collected during the 1994-96 reproductive seasons. These were tested for antibodies to 19 serovars of Leptospira interrogans using a Microscopic Agglutination Test (MAT). Forty-one samples (32%) had antibody levels from 1:20 to 1:320 to one or more serovars. The most frequently detected serotypes were Leptospira interrogans hardjo (n = 13), cynopteri (8), ballum (6), and szwajizak (5). Serovars with the highest prevalence were Leptospira interrogans hardjo and serjoe (1:320), ballum (1:160), and cynopteri, girppotyphosa, and tarassovi (1:80). Based on these results, exposure of sea lions to L. interrogans serovar hardjo seems to be relatively common among colonies located in the islands of the Gulf of California in contrast with those located on the Pacific coast, where the most frequently detected serovar is L. interrogans serovar pomona.

  14. Geographical dissemination of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona during seasonal migration of California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Zuerner, Richard L; Cameron, Caroline E; Raverty, Stephen; Robinson, John; Colegrove, Kathleen M; Norman, Stephanie A; Lambourn, Dyanna; Jeffries, Steven; Alt, David P; Gulland, Frances

    2009-05-28

    Leptospirosis is one of the most widespread bacterial zoonoses in the world and affects most mammalian species. Although leptospirosis is well documented and characterized in terrestrial species, less information is available regarding the distribution and impact of leptospirosis in marine mammals. Additionally, the role of animal migrations on the geographical spread of leptospirosis has not been reported. Periodic epizootic outbreaks of acute leptospirosis among California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) have been reported since 1971. In this study, we collected samples from California sea lions stranded along the Pacific coast of North America during the most recent epidemic in 2004, and maintained leptospirosis surveillance of the California sea lion population along the California coast through 2007. Several isolates of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona were obtained from kidney and urine samples collected during this study, a finding consistent with serological evidence that California sea lions are persistently exposed to this leptospiral serovar. Combined, these data support a model whereby California sea lions are maintenance hosts for L. interrogans serovar Pomona, yet periodically undergo outbreaks of acute infection. During the 2004 outbreak, the incidence of new leptospirosis cases among California sea lions coincided with the seasonal movement of male sea lions from rookeries along the coast of central and southern California north as far as British Columbia. These data show that seasonal animal movement contributes to the distribution of leptospirosis across a large geographical region.

  15. Regional Sea Level Variation: California Coastal Subsidence (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Blewitt, G.; Hammond, W. C.; Nerem, R.

    2013-12-01

    Satellite altimetry over the last two decades has measured variations in geocentric sea level (GSL), relative to the Earth system center of mass, providing valuable data to test models of physical oceanography and the effects of global climate change. The societal impacts of sea level change however relate to variations in local sea level (LSL), relative to the land at the coast. Therefore, assessing the impacts of sea level change requires coastal measurements of vertical land motion (VLM). Indeed, ΔLSL = ΔGSL - ΔVLM, with subsidence mapping 1:1 into LSL. Measurements of secular coastal VLM also allow tide-gauge data to test models of GSL over the last century in some locations, which cannot be provided by satellite data. Here we use GPS geodetic data within 15 km of the US west coast to infer regional, secular VLM. A total of 89 GPS stations met the criteria that time series span >4.5 yr, and do not have obvious non-linear variation, as may be caused by local instability. VLM rates for the GPS stations are derived in the secular reference frame ITRF2008, which aligns with the Earth system center of mass to ×0.5 mm/yr. We find that regional VLM has different behavior north and south of the Mendocino Triple Junction (MTJ). The California coast has a coherent regional pattern of subsidence averaging 0.5 mm/yr, with an increasing trend to the north. This trend generally matches GIA model predictions. Around San Francisco Bay, the observed coastal subsidence of 1.0 mm/yr coherently decreases moving away from the Pacific Ocean to very small subsidence on the east shores of the bay. This gradient is likely caused by San Andreas-Hayward Fault tectonics, and possibly by differential surface loading across the bay and Sacramento-San Joachim River Delta. Thus in addition to the trend in subsidence from GIA going northward along the California coast, tectonics may also play a role where the plate boundary fault system approaches the coast. In contrast, we find that VLM

  16. First evidence for adoption in California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Flatz, Ramona; Gerber, Leah R

    2010-11-08

    Demographic parameters such as birth and death rates determine the persistence of populations. Understanding the mechanisms that influence these rates is essential to developing effective management strategies. Alloparental behavior, or the care of non-filial young, has been documented in many species and has been shown to influence offspring survival. However, the role of alloparental behavior in maintaining population viability has not been previously studied. Here, we provide the first evidence for adoption in California sea lions and show that adoption potentially works to maintain a high survival rate of young and may ultimately contribute to population persistence. Alloparental behavior should have a positive effect on the population growth rate when the sum of the effects on fitness for the alloparent and beneficiary is positive.

  17. An otter tragedy. [Environmental effects of oil spills

    SciTech Connect

    Raloff, J.

    1993-03-27

    Otters appear to be the most vulnerable of all marine mammals to oil; oil reduces the insulating value of their fur by as much as 70% and otters are extremely vulnerable to oil poisoning through inhalation of hydrocarbon fumes, ingestion of petroleum, and absorption through the skin. After the Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska's Prince William Sound, dramatic efforts were made to rescue and rehabilitate otters and other sea animals. One hundred ninety seven of the treated otters were released back into the wild. However, soon after the release, wildlife biologist Lisa Rotterman reported an unprecidented die-off of never-oiled otters. Many of the treated otters may have carried a potentially novel herpesvirus, but whether this caused the die-off is controversial. It is also hard to separate symptoms of sickness, stress, and fear from oil toxicity. Overall the findings suggest a generic regimen for all oiled otters: antibiotics, vitamin and mineral supplements, and prompt administration of fluids. Assessing which animals need care is an urgent need. Strict quarantine, short captivity time, and protected handling of oiled animals are further suggestions.

  18. Sea surface and remotely sensed temperatures off Cape Mendocino, California

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Breaker, L. C.; Arvesen, J. C.; Frydenlund, D.; Myers, J. S.; Short, K.

    1985-01-01

    During September 3 to 5, 1979, a multisensor oceanographic experiment was conducted off Cape Mendocino, California. The purpose of this experiment was to validate the use of remote sensing techniques over an area along the U.S. west coast where coasted upwelling is known to be intense. Remotely sensed mutlispectral data, including thermal infrared imagery, were collected above an upwelling feature off Cape Mendocino. Data were acquired from the TIRNOS-N and NOAA-6 polar orbiting satellites, the NASA Ames Research Center's high altitude U-2 aircraft, and a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft. Supporting surface truth data over the same feature were collected aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship, OCEANOGRAPHER. Atmospheric soundings were also taken aboard the ship. The results indicate that shipboard measurements of sea surface temperatures can be reproduction within 1 C or better through remote observation of absolute infrared radiance values (whether measured aboard the NOAA polar orbiting satellite, the U-2 aircraft, or the Coast Guard aircraft) by using appropriate atmospheric corrections. Also, the patterns of sea surface temperature which were derived independently from the various remote platforms provide a consistent interpretation of the surface temperature field.

  19. MHC gene configuration variation in geographically disparate populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Bowen, L; Aldridge, B M; Delong, R; Melin, S; Godinez, C; Zavala, A; Gulland, F; Lowenstine, L; Stott, J L; Johnson, M L

    2006-02-01

    Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II DRB genotypes were examined in two geographically isolated populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) (Gulf of California and California coastal Pacific Ocean). Genomic DNA from 227 California sea lions was examined using eight sequence-specific primer (SSP) pairs flanking the putative peptide-binding site. A total of 40 different Zaca-DRB genotype configurations were identified among the 227 individuals. Using SSP-PCR, significant differences were found between coastal California and Gulf of California Zalophus populations in numbers of DRB sequences per individual and configuration of sequences within individuals. Additionally, unique local patterns of MHC diversity were identified among the Midriff Island animals. These population differences are consistent with either ecologically distinct patterns of selection pressures and/or geographical isolation. The consequences of these partitioned MHC configurations at the population level are as yet unknown; however, the worldwide increase in emerging marine diseases lends urgency to their examination.

  20. University of California Sea Grant College Program Directory 1974-1975.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    California Univ., San Diego, La Jolla. Inst. of Marine Resources.

    The directory provides detailed information on the University of California Sea Grant programs dealing with management, education, and advisory services; coastal resources; agricultural research and development; fisheries research and development; as well as energy resources and development. (NTIS)

  1. Asymptomatic and chronic carriage of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Prager, K C; Greig, Denise J; Alt, David P; Galloway, Renee L; Hornsby, Richard L; Palmer, Lauren J; Soper, Jennifer; Wu, Qingzhong; Zuerner, Richard L; Gulland, Frances M D; Lloyd-Smith, James O

    2013-05-31

    Since 1970, periodic outbreaks of leptospirosis, caused by pathogenic spirochetes in the genus Leptospira, have caused morbidity and mortality of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) along the Pacific coast of North America. Yearly seasonal epizootics of varying magnitude occur between the months of July and December, with major epizootics occurring every 3-5 years. Genetic and serological data suggest that Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona is the infecting serovar and is enzootic in the California sea lion population, although the mechanism of persistence is unknown. We report asymptomatic carriage of Leptospira in 39% (33/85) of wild, free-ranging sea lions sampled during the epizootic season, and asymptomatic seroconversion with chronic asymptomatic carriage in a rehabilitated sea lion. This is the first report of asymptomatic carriage in wild, free-ranging California sea lions and the first example of seroconversion and asymptomatic chronic carriage in a sea lion. Detection of asymptomatic chronic carriage of Leptospira in California sea lions, a species known to suffer significant disease and mortality from the same Leptospira strain, goes against widely-held notions regarding leptospirosis in accidental versus maintenance host species. Further, chronic carriage could provide a mechanism for persistent circulation of Leptospira in the California sea lion population, particularly if these animals shed infectious leptospires for months to years.

  2. Genetic diversity of the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) population in Israel.

    PubMed

    Cohen, Tali Magory; Narkiss, Tamar; Dolev, Amit; Ben-Ari, Yossi; Kronfeld-Schor, Noga; Guter, Amichai; Saltz, David; Bar-Gal, Gila Kahila

    2013-03-01

    The Israeli population of Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) marks the Palearctic southern boundary of the species' distribution in the Levant. During the 20th century, the otter population in Israel experienced a dramatic decline due to anthropogenic habitat alterations. Currently, the otter population in Israel is estimated at about 100 individuals and defined as "Critically Endangered". The aim of this research was to characterize the Israeli otter population in order to determine its genetic diversity and fragmentation state for conservation purposes. Monitoring spraint sites during 2000-2011 along active and historic otter distribution regions indicate both stable and unstable otter subpopulations, mainly along the Jordan River. Four otter subpopulations, representing 57 individuals, were characterized by 12 microsatellites, previously used to characterize the European otter populations. The genetic results indicated three subpopulations correlating with three geographical regions: the Hula Valley, Sea of Galilee, and the Harod Valley. A moderate genetic diversity (F (st) = 0.087-0.123) was found among the subpopulations, suggesting sporadic interactions between individuals from distinct geographical locations along the Jordan Rift Valley. The Israeli otter population was found to be very small, demographically remote and genetically distinct, harboring unique alleles absent from the studied European populations. Therefore, immediate conservation actions are recommended to prevent the deterioration of the isolated, unique, and critically endangered otter population in Israel.

  3. Blood Oxygen Depletion in Diving California Sea Lions: How Close to the Limit

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2013-09-30

    appropriate surrogate model for further investigation of blood N2 uptake during diving. RELATED PROJECTS Deep-diving California sea lions: Are they... reservoir in the collapsed lungs serves to supplement blood O2 levels during ascent. Conclusions: Although California sea lions have extreme hypoxemic...Elsner et al. 1998) and f) the basic assumptions of many recent computer models of the uptake and distribution of N2 during diving (Fahlman et al. 2009

  4. Salton Sea and Imperial Valley, California as seen from the Apollo 7 spacecra

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1968-01-01

    Salton Sea and Imperial Valley area of southern California, including a portion of northern Baja California, Mexico, as seen from the Apollo 7 spacecraft during its 17th revolution of the earth. Photographed from an altitude of 125 nautical miles, at ground elapsed time of 27 hours.

  5. Transplacental transfer of organochlorines in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Greig, Denise J; Ylitalo, Gina M; Hall, Ailsa J; Fauquier, Deborah A; Gulland, Frances

    2007-01-01

    The transplacental transfer of organochlorines (OCs) in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) was investigated by analyzing blubber samples from 20 female sea lions and their fetuses during the last trimester of pregnancy. A rapid, high-performance liquid chromatographic, photodiode-array method was used to measure blubber concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), including dioxin-like congeners, as well as DDTs and hexachlorobenzene. Summed values of PCBs (sigmaPCBs), of DDTs (sigmaDDTs), and of PCB toxic equivalents (sigmaPCB TEQs) were calculated from these data. The ratios of mean blubber concentrations of fetal sigmaPCBs to maternal blubber concentrations of sigmaPCBs were 0.45 by wet weight and 0.97 by lipid weight, but these ratios varied widely among mother-fetus pairs. Mean ratios of fetal sigmaDDTs to maternal sigmaDDTs were 0.53 by wet weight and 1.12 by lipid weight. Fetuses were classified into two age groups, based on date of recovery, to examine differences in OC transfer because of gestational age. Fetal to maternal ratios for individual PCB congeners, DDT compounds, and sigmaPCBs, sigmaDDTs, and sigmaPCB TEQs were lower among premature compared with late-term fetuses. These ratios increased for both groups as the logarithmic n-octanol/water partition coefficient (log Kow) for each compound decreased. Linear predictions for sigmaPCB and sigmaDDT concentrations in fetal blubber could be obtained using the sigmaPCB and sigmaDDT concentrations in maternal blubber, maternal and fetal blubber lipid content, maternal mass, and maternal age. Fetal TEQ was explained by maternal TEQ and maternal age. The ability to predict contaminant concentrations in fetal blubber from maternal parameters is important for developing risk assessment models for marine mammals.

  6. Late Quaternary relative sea level in Southern California and Monterey Bay

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Reynolds, Laura C.; Simms, Alexander R.

    2015-10-01

    Few records of late Quaternary relative sea level (RSL) are available for the Pacific coast of North America south of San Francisco Bay, a region where RSL data would be particularly useful for constraining vertical rates of tectonic motion. This paper provides the first regional, uplift-corrected late Quaternary RSL history for southern California derived from a compilation of 132 previously published and unpublished radiocarbon ages from nearshore, estuarine, and freshwater deposits in sediment cores from coastal southern California. We also provide a local, uplift-corrected RSL history for Monterey Bay, central California, generated from 48 radiocarbon ages from Elkhorn Slough and surrounding environments. Our resulting compilations show rapid sea-level rise from 15 ka which begins to decelerate to present mean sea level (PMSL) between 6 and 8 ka. Late Holocene (<4 ka) sea-level rise averaged 0.8 ± 0.3 mm a-1 in southern California and 1.3 ± 0.19 mm a-1 along Monterey Bay in central California. Both rates of late Holocene RSL rise calculated are lower than recent RSL rates from southern California (˜1.61 ± 0.34 to 2.4 ± 1.04 mm a-1) and Monterey Bay (1.49 ± 0.95 mm a-1), derived from uplift-corrected, 20th century tide gauge data. This new RSL data fills geographical gaps in relative sea-level histories, as well as provides important datums for local tectonic processes.

  7. SPORULATION AND SURVIVAL OF TOXOPLASMA GONDII OOCYSTS IN SEA WATER

    EPA Science Inventory

    Since 1992, we have been collaborating in studies on southern sea otters (Enhdyra lutris nereis) as part of a program to define factors which may be responsible for limiting the growth of the southern sea otter population. We previously demonstrated Toxoplasma gondii in sea otter...

  8. Dental pathology of the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Sinai, N L; Dadaian, R H; Kass, P H; Verstraete, F J M

    2014-07-01

    Skulls from 1,085 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) were examined macroscopically according to defined criteria. The museum specimens, 61.8% male and 37.3% female, were acquired from strandings and varied in age from juvenile to adult. The majority of teeth were available for examination (95.7%); 3.8% of teeth were artefactually absent, 0.4% deemed absent due to acquired tooth loss and 0.1% were congenitally absent. Acquired tooth loss was associated significantly with sex (P = 0.004) with males having more tooth loss than females and total ante-mortem tooth loss was associated significantly with age (P <0.0001) with adults having more tooth loss than young adults and juveniles. Eleven teeth were malformed and 81 teeth were observed to have two roots. Supernumerary teeth (usually maxillary molar teeth) were associated with 1.3% of teeth, some specimens demonstrating up to four supernumerary teeth. Thirteen persistent deciduous teeth were identified. A total of 713 specimens showed attrition or abrasion, with 42.4% of teeth affected. A significant association was detected between sex and incidence of abrasion and age and the incidence of abrasion (P <0.0001 for both associations). Males showed more abrasion than females and adults showed more abrasion than young adults or juveniles. Two hundred and sixteen fractured teeth were observed, with root fractures being most prevalent. Fractures were associated significantly with sex and with age (P <0.0001 for each association). Males had more fractures than females and adults had more fractures than young adults and juveniles. Bony changes consistent with periodontitis were found, affecting 19.4% of teeth. Males were shown to have more periodontitis than females and adults were shown to have more periodontitis than young adults and juveniles. Sixty-three periapical lesions were noted.

  9. Molecular characterization of Sarcocystis neurona strains from opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and intermediate hosts from Central California.

    PubMed

    Rejmanek, Daniel; Miller, Melissa A; Grigg, Michael E; Crosbie, Paul R; Conrad, Patricia A

    2010-05-28

    Sarcocystis neurona is a significant cause of neurological disease in horses and other animals, including the threatened Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). Opossums (Didelphis virginiana), the only known definitive hosts for S. neurona in North America, are an introduced species in California. S. neurona DNA isolated from sporocysts and/or infected tissues of 10 opossums, 6 horses, 1 cat, 23 Southern sea otters, and 1 harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) with natural infections was analyzed based on 15 genetic markers, including the first internal transcribed spacer (ITS-1) region; the 25/396 marker; S. neurona surface antigen genes (snSAGs) 2, 3, and 4; and 10 different microsatellites. Based on phylogenetic analysis, most of the S. neurona strains segregated into three genetically distinct groups. Additionally, fifteen S. neurona samples from opossums and several intermediate hosts, including sea otters and horses, were found to be genetically identical across all 15 genetic markers, indicating that fatal encephalitis in Southern sea otters and equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) in horses is strongly linked to S. neurona sporocysts shed by opossums.

  10. Loss of genetic diversity in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) associated with the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Larson, S.; Jameson, R.; Etnier, M.; Flemings, M.; Bentzen, P.

    2002-01-01

    During 1969 and 1970, surveys of the endangered Yuma Clapper Rail were conducted using taped calls to elicit responses from the birds. During the two summers, more than 158 Yuma clappers were located in cattailtule marshes along the Colorado River south of Needles, California, to the International Boundary, a distance of about 240 miles. Clappers (probably of the same race) were also found in estuarian marshes of the Colorado River Delta of Mexico; in the Salton Sea; in two freshwater marsh areas near Phoenix, Arizona; and in two freshwater marshes adjacent to the lower Gila River near Tacna, Arizona.....Populations of Sonora Clapper Rails were discovered as permanent residents in five separate mangrove swamps along the west coast of Mexico in the vicinity of Kino Bay, Sonora. These observations were farther north than any heretofore reported for the race R. l. rhizophorae, and the swamps also represent the extreme northward limit of mangroves in Sonora.....During the winter, Yuma clappers did not respond to taped calls north of the International Boundary, whereas clappers along the coast of Sonora readily answered the calls during the same period of time. We conclude that most Yuma Clapper Rails migrate from their summer habitat along the Colorado River in September and do not return to the breeding areas until late April.

  11. Isolation of a novel adenovirus from California sea lions Zalophus californianus.

    PubMed

    Goldstein, T; Colegrove, K M; Hanson, M; Gulland, F M D

    2011-05-09

    Viral hepatitis associated with adenoviral infection has been reported in California sea lions Zalophus californianus admitted to rehabilitation centers along the California coast since the 1970s. Canine adenovirus 1 (CAdV-1) causes viral hepatitis in dogs and infects a number of wildlife species. Attempts to isolate the virus from previous sea lion hepatitis cases were unsuccessful, but as the hepatitis had morphologic features resembling canine infectious hepatitis, and since the virus has a wide host range, it was thought that perhaps the etiologic agent was CAdV-1. Here, we identify a novel adenovirus in 2 stranded California sea lions and associate the infection with viral hepatitis and endothelial cell infection. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed the classification of the sea lion adenovirus in the Mastadenovirus genus with the most similarity to tree shrew adenovirus 1 (TSAdV-1, 77%). However, as the sea lion adenovirus appeared to be equally distant from the other Mastadenovirus species based on phylogenetic analysis, results indicate that it represents an independent lineage and species. Although sequences from this novel virus, otarine adenovirus 1 (OtAdV-1), show some similarity to CAdV-1 and 2, it is clearly distinct and likely the cause of the viral hepatitis in the stranded California sea lions.

  12. Organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus californianus) from the Gulf of California, México.

    PubMed

    Niño-Torres, Carlos Alberto; Gardner, Susan C; Zenteno-Savín, Tania; Ylitalo, Gina M

    2009-02-01

    We report concentrations of several classes of organochlorines (OCs) in the blubber of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) from the Gulf of California. Summed OC levels measured in 34 wild-ranging animals were, in general, lower than those previously reported in sea lions from the eastern Pacific. The rank order of OCs was SigmaDDTs (mean=3400 ng g(-1 ) lipid weight [lw]) > SigmaPCBs (1400 ng g(-1 ) lw) > SigmaHCHs (50 ng g(-1 ) lw) >or= SigmaCHLORs (46 ng g(-1 ) lw). The most abundant OC measured was the DDT metabolite, p,p'-DDE. No significant differences in OC profiles were found between genders or rookeries. Although the mean concentrations of OCs measured in adult males and females were similar, only adult females had significantly higher (p<0.05) mean blubber concentrations of summation SigmaDDTs and summation SigmaHCHs than pups.

  13. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus californianus) have lower chlorinated hydrocarbon contents in northern Baja California, México, than in California, USA.

    PubMed

    Del Toro, Ligeia; Heckel, Gisela; Camacho-Ibar, Víctor F; Schramm, Yolanda

    2006-07-01

    Chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHs) were determined in blubber samples of 18 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus californianus) that stranded dead along Todos Santos Bay, Ensenada, Baja California, México, January 2000-November 2001. Summation operatorDDTs were the dominant group (geometric mean 3.8 microg/g lipid weight), followed by polychlorinated biphenyls ( summation operatorPCBs, 2.96 microg/g), chlordanes (0.12 microg/g) and hexachlorocyclohexanes (0.06 microg/g). The summation operatorDDTs/ summation operatorPCBs ratio was 1.3. We found CH levels more than one order of magnitude lower than those reported for California sea lion samples collected along the California coast, USA, during the same period as our study. This sharp north-south gradient suggests that Z. californianus stranded in Ensenada (most of them males) would probably have foraged during the summer near rookeries 500-1000 km south of Ensenada and the rest of the year migrate northwards, foraging along the Baja California peninsula, including Ensenada, and probably farther north.

  14. Transformation of the genital epithelial tract occurs early in California sea lion development

    PubMed Central

    Barragán-Vargas, Cecilia; Montano-Frías, Jorge; Ávila Rosales, Germán; Godínez-Reyes, Carlos R.; Acevedo-Whitehouse, Karina

    2016-01-01

    An unusually high prevalence of metastatic urogenital carcinoma has been observed in free-ranging California sea lions stranded off the coast of California in the past two decades. No cases have been reported for sea lions in the relatively unpolluted Gulf of California. We investigated occurrence of genital epithelial transformation in 60 sea lions (n=57 pups and 3 adult females) from the Gulf of California and examined whether infection by a viral pathogen previously found to be associated with urogenital carcinoma accounted for such alterations. We also explored the contribution of MHC class II gene expression on transformation. Cellular alterations, such as squamous cell atypia (ASC), atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) and low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions were observed in 42% of the pups and in 67% of the adult females. Normal genital epithelium was more common in male than female pups. ASC was five times more likely to occur in older pups. Epithelial alterations were unrelated to infection by the potentially oncogenic otarine type I gammaherpesvirus (OtHV-1), but ASCUS was more common in pups with marked and severe inflammation. Expression of MHC class II DRB loci (Zaca DRB-D) by peripheral antigen-presenting leucocytes showed a slightly ‘protective’ effect for ASC. We propose that transformation of the California sea lion genital epithelium is relatively common in young animals, increases with age and is probably the result of infection by an unidentified pathogen. Expression of a specific MHC class II gene, suggestive of presentation of specific antigenic peptides to immune effectors, appears to lower the risk of transformation. Our study provides the first evidence that epithelial transformation of the California sea lion genital tract is relatively common, even from an early age, and raises questions regarding differences in sea lion cancer-detection and -repair success between geographical regions. PMID:27069641

  15. Transformation of the genital epithelial tract occurs early in California sea lion development.

    PubMed

    Barragán-Vargas, Cecilia; Montano-Frías, Jorge; Ávila Rosales, Germán; Godínez-Reyes, Carlos R; Acevedo-Whitehouse, Karina

    2016-03-01

    An unusually high prevalence of metastatic urogenital carcinoma has been observed in free-ranging California sea lions stranded off the coast of California in the past two decades. No cases have been reported for sea lions in the relatively unpolluted Gulf of California. We investigated occurrence of genital epithelial transformation in 60 sea lions (n=57 pups and 3 adult females) from the Gulf of California and examined whether infection by a viral pathogen previously found to be associated with urogenital carcinoma accounted for such alterations. We also explored the contribution of MHC class II gene expression on transformation. Cellular alterations, such as squamous cell atypia (ASC), atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) and low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions were observed in 42% of the pups and in 67% of the adult females. Normal genital epithelium was more common in male than female pups. ASC was five times more likely to occur in older pups. Epithelial alterations were unrelated to infection by the potentially oncogenic otarine type I gammaherpesvirus (OtHV-1), but ASCUS was more common in pups with marked and severe inflammation. Expression of MHC class II DRB loci (Zaca DRB-D) by peripheral antigen-presenting leucocytes showed a slightly 'protective' effect for ASC. We propose that transformation of the California sea lion genital epithelium is relatively common in young animals, increases with age and is probably the result of infection by an unidentified pathogen. Expression of a specific MHC class II gene, suggestive of presentation of specific antigenic peptides to immune effectors, appears to lower the risk of transformation. Our study provides the first evidence that epithelial transformation of the California sea lion genital tract is relatively common, even from an early age, and raises questions regarding differences in sea lion cancer-detection and -repair success between geographical regions.

  16. First findings of Cryptosporidium and Giardia in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Deng, M Q; Peterson, R P; Cliver, D O

    2000-06-01

    We report the detection and identification of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from 1 of 3 species of pinnipeds. Fecal samples were collected from Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi), northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) in the northern California coastal area. By means of fluorescently labeled monoclonal antibodies, Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in 3 samples from California sea lions, 1 of which also contained Giardia cysts. Oocysts of Cryptosporidium and cysts of Giardia were morphologically indistinguishable from oocysts of C. parvum and cysts of G. duodenalis from other animal origins. Oocysts and cysts were then purified using immunomagnetic separation techniques and identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), from which species-specific products were obtained. Sequence analysis revealed that the 452-bp and 358-bp PCR products of Cryptosporidium isolated from California sea lion had identities of 98% with sequences of their template fragments of C. parvum obtained from infected calves. Based on morphological, immunological, and genetic characterization, the isolates were identified as C. parvum and G. duodenalis, respectively. The findings suggested that California sea lions could serve as reservoirs in the environmental transmission of Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

  17. Hookworm enteritis with bacteremia in California sea lion pups on San Miguel Island.

    PubMed

    Spraker, Terry R; DeLong, Robert L; Lyons, Eugene T; Melin, Sharon R

    2007-04-01

    Large breeding populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are located on San Miguel and San Nicolas Islands in the Southern California Bight. In 2001, there was a substantial increase in pup mortality in late summer and fall. From June 2002 to January 2003, 208 freshly dead pups were examined on San Miguel Island, the most western of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. Tissues from 186 of these pups were examined histologically. The primary lesions in 133 (72%) of the pups were an enteritis associated with hookworms and infections in major organs. Emaciation/starvation in 43 pups (26%) was the second most important cause of death.

  18. Isolation by distance among California sea lion populations in Mexico: redefining management stocks.

    PubMed

    González-Suárez, M; Flatz, R; Aurioles-Gamboa, D; Hedrick, P W; Gerber, L R

    2009-03-01

    Understanding the spatial structure of a population is critical for effective assessment and management. However, direct observation of spatial dynamics is generally difficult, particularly for marine mammals. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are polygynous pinnipeds distributed along the Pacific coast of North America. The species' range has been subdivided into three management stocks based on differences in mitochondrial DNA, but to date no studies have considered nuclear genetic variation, and thus we lack a comprehensive understanding of gene flow patterns among sea lion colonies. In light of recent population declines in the Gulf of California, Mexico, it is important to understand spatial structure to determine if declining sea lion colonies are genetically isolated from others. To define population subdivision and identify sex biases in gene flow, we analysed a 355-bp sequence of the mitochondrial DNA control region and 10 polymorphic microsatellite loci from 355 tissue samples collected from six colonies distributed along Mexican waters. Using a novel approach to estimate sex biases in gene flow, we found that male sea lions disperse on average 6.75 times more frequently than females. Analyses of population subdivision strongly suggest a pattern of isolation by distance among colonies and challenge current stock definitions. Based on these results, we propose an alternative classification that identifies three Mexican management units: Upper Gulf of California, Southern Baja Peninsula, and Upper Pacific Coast of Baja. This revised classification should be considered in future assessment and management of California sea lion populations in Mexican waters.

  19. High-altitude diving in river otters: coping with combined hypoxic stresses.

    PubMed

    Crait, Jamie R; Prange, Henry D; Marshall, Noah A; Harlow, Henry J; Cotton, Clark J; Ben-David, Merav

    2012-01-15

    River otters (Lontra canadensis) are highly active, semi-aquatic mammals indigenous to a range of elevations and represent an appropriate model for assessing the physiological responses to diving at altitude. In this study, we performed blood gas analyses and compared blood chemistry of river otters from a high-elevation (2357 m) population at Yellowstone Lake with a sea-level population along the Pacific coast. Comparisons of oxygen dissociation curves (ODC) revealed no significant difference in hemoglobin-oxygen (Hb-O(2)) binding affinity between the two populations - potentially because of demands for tissue oxygenation. Instead, high-elevation otters had greater Hb concentrations (18.7 g dl(-1)) than sea-level otters (15.6 g dl(-1)). Yellowstone otters displayed higher levels of the vasodilator nitric oxide (NO), and half the concentration of the serum protein albumin, possibly to compensate for increased blood viscosity. Despite compensation in several hematological and serological parameters, theoretical aerobic dive limits (ADL) were similar between high-elevation and sea-level otters because of the lower availability of O(2) at altitude. Our results suggest that recent disruptions to the Yellowstone Lake food web could be detrimental to otters because at this high elevation, constraints on diving may limit their ability to switch to prey in a deep-water environment.

  20. High-altitude diving in river otters: coping with combined hypoxic stresses

    PubMed Central

    Crait, Jamie R.; Prange, Henry D.; Marshall, Noah A.; Harlow, Henry J.; Cotton, Clark J.; Ben-David, Merav

    2012-01-01

    SUMMARY River otters (Lontra canadensis) are highly active, semi-aquatic mammals indigenous to a range of elevations and represent an appropriate model for assessing the physiological responses to diving at altitude. In this study, we performed blood gas analyses and compared blood chemistry of river otters from a high-elevation (2357 m) population at Yellowstone Lake with a sea-level population along the Pacific coast. Comparisons of oxygen dissociation curves (ODC) revealed no significant difference in hemoglobin-oxygen (Hb-O2) binding affinity between the two populations - potentially because of demands for tissue oxygenation. Instead, high-elevation otters had greater Hb concentrations (18.7 g dl-1) than sea-level otters (15.6 g dl-1). Yellowstone otters displayed higher levels of the vasodilator nitric oxide (NO), and half the concentration of the serum protein albumin, possibly to compensate for increased blood viscosity. Despite compensation in several hematological and serological parameters, theoretical aerobic dive limits (ADL) were similar between high-elevation and sea-level otters because of the lower availability of O2 at altitude. Our results suggest that recent disruptions to the Yellowstone Lake food web could be detrimental to otters because at this high elevation, constraints on diving may limit their ability to switch to prey in a deep-water environment. PMID:22189769

  1. Antibiotic efficacy in eliminating leptospiruria in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) stranding with leptospirosis

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Infection of California sea lions with leptospirosis can result in stranding and death of the animals. Shedding of the infectious organism contributes to spread of the disease to other animals and also poses a threat to human health. This is both for the public interacting with stranded animals and ...

  2. Asymptomatic and chronic carriage of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Since 1970, periodic outbreaks of leptospirosis, caused by pathogenic spirochetes in the genus Leptospira, have caused morbidity and mortality of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) along the Pacific coast of North America. Yearly seasonal epizootics of varying magnitude occur between the ...

  3. Dissecting the Influences of Climate and Demography on the Dynamics of Leptospirosis in California Sea Lions

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection of global importance, yet its population dynamics remain poorly understood. We present the first empirically-motivated study of the dynamics of leptospirosis, drawing on a unique 24-year time series of disease in California sea lions (CSLs). Since the early 19...

  4. Complete Genome Sequence of a Novel Picobirnavirus, Otarine Picobirnavirus, Discovered in California Sea Lions

    PubMed Central

    Bai, Ru; Teng, Jade L. L.; Lee, Paul; Martelli, Paolo; Hui, Suk-Wai; Yuen, Kwok-Yung

    2012-01-01

    We discovered a novel otarine picobirnavirus in fecal samples of California sea lions. Its genome contains a large segment with two open reading frames (ORFs), ORF1 encoding a putative protein of 163 amino acids with unknown function and ORF2 encoding capsid protein, and a small segment with one ORF encoding RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. PMID:22570247

  5. REVIEW OF THE FISHERIES OF THE SALTON SEA, CALIFORNIA, USA: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE. (R826552)

    EPA Science Inventory

    The Salton Sea is an endorheic, 980-km2 salt lake in the Sonoran Desert of southern California. The historical fish community switched from freshwater to marine species as salinity increased due to evaporation and brackish water inflows. Three species, bairdiella (<...

  6. STS-49 Earth observation of the Salton Sea and the Gulf of California

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1992-01-01

    STS-49 Earth observation taken aboard Endeavour, Orbiter Vehicle (OV) 105, shows the Salton Sea and the Gulf of California. The nearly cloud-free view follows the Colorado River Delta from the Gulf of California (Mexico) to the Salton Sea (California). The Colorado River enters its delta from the right (east), then turns directly south to form saline tidal flats at the edge of the gulf. Nearly all the water is used for irrigation. The United States (U.S.) / Mexican border shows clearly in the different field patterns and the intensity of the greenish color. The irrigated agricultural area offers a sharp contrast to the surrounding desert. The crew used a handheld HASSELBLAD camera with a 100-mm lens to record the image.

  7. Seroepidemiology of parapoxvirus infections in captive and free-ranging California sea lions Zalophus californianus.

    PubMed

    Nollens, Hendrik H; Gulland, Frances M D; Hernandez, Jorge A; Condit, Richard C; Klein, Paul A; Walsh, Michael T; Jacobson, Elliott R

    2006-04-06

    Cutaneous nodular lesions caused by parapoxvirus infections are commonly observed in stranded pinnipeds following their arrival at rehabilitation facilities. An indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed and validated to determine exposure to parapoxviruses in California sea lions Zalophus californianus in captivity and in the wild. The diagnostic performance of this assay was evaluated using receiver-operating characteristic analysis. At a selected cut-off value, the calculated sensitivity was 100% (95% CI = 86 to 100%) and the specificity was 100% (95% CI = 87 to 100%). Analysis of sera collected from 26 affected sea lions during various stages of the disease revealed anti-parapoxvirus antibodies in all affected sea lions prior to the development of cutaneous pox lesions. This indicated that previous exposure to a parapoxvirus does not confer protection against clinical disease. In at least 7 cases, exposure to the virus occurred during hospitalization. Analysis of paired sera from 74 unaffected sea lions indicated subclinical infections in at least 3 animals. Finally, the prevalence of anti-parapoxviral antibodies in 761 free-ranging California sea lions captured and tested was 91% (95% CI = 89 to 93%). This indicated that infection with a parapoxvirus is a common occurrence in the wild and that the release of captive sea lions infected with parapoxvirus into the wild should not increase the risk of a parapoxvirus outbreak in free-ranging sea lions.

  8. Novel anellovirus discovered from a mortality event of captive California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Ng, Terry Fei Fan; Suedmeyer, Wm Kirk; Wheeler, Elizabeth; Gulland, Frances; Breitbart, Mya

    2009-05-01

    A viral metagenomic study was performed to investigate potential viral pathogens associated with a mortality event of three captive California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). This study identified a novel California sea lion anellovirus (ZcAV), with 35 % amino acid identity in the ORF1 region to feline anelloviruses. The double-stranded replicative form of ZcAV was detected in lung tissue, suggesting that ZcAV replicates in sea lion lungs. Specific PCR revealed the presence of ZcAV in the lung tissue of all three sea lions involved in the mortality event, but not in three other sea lions from the same zoo. In addition, ZcAV was detected at low frequency (11 %) in the lungs of wild sea lions. The higher prevalence of ZcAV and presence of the double-stranded replicative form in the lungs of sea lions from the mortality event suggest that ZcAV was associated with the death of these animals.

  9. Pathological features of amyloidosis in stranded California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Colegrove, K M; Gulland, F M D; Harr, K; Naydan, D K; Lowenstine, L J

    2009-01-01

    Amyloidosis was diagnosed in 26 stranded adult California sea lions between 1983 and 2006 by retrospective case analysis. The kidneys (92.3% of animals), blood vessels (80.7%) and thyroid glands (65.4%) were most commonly affected. Macroscopically, affected kidneys were swollen, with pale tan cortices and loss of corticomedullary differentiation. Amyloid deposits in the kidney were located in the glomeruli, blood vessels, and peritubular interstitium, most prominently in the outer stripe of the medulla. The amyloid deposits were identified as type amyloid A (AA) by potassium permanganate staining and immunolabelling with antibodies against AA protein. Concurrent diseases, including inflammatory processes and genital carcinoma, were common in affected animals. Serum amyloid A concentrations were high (>1200 microg/ml) in six of seven affected sea lions, while the median value in clinically healthy animals was <10 microg/ml. These findings suggest that renal amyloidosis contributes to morbidity and mortality in stranded adult California sea lions.

  10. Food limitation of sea lion pups and the decline of forage off central and southern California.

    PubMed

    McClatchie, Sam; Field, John; Thompson, Andrew R; Gerrodette, Tim; Lowry, Mark; Fiedler, Paul C; Watson, William; Nieto, Karen M; Vetter, Russell D

    2016-03-01

    California sea lions increased from approximately 50 000 to 340 000 animals in the last 40 years, and their pups are starving and stranding on beaches in southern California, raising questions about the adequacy of their food supply. We investigated whether the declining sea lion pup weight at San Miguel rookery was associated with changes in abundance and quality of sardine, anchovy, rockfish and market squid forage. In the last decade off central California, where breeding female sea lions from San Miguel rookery feed, sardine and anchovy greatly decreased in biomass, whereas market squid and rockfish abundance increased. Pup weights fell as forage food quality declined associated with changes in the relative abundances of forage species. A model explained 67% of the variance in pup weights using forage from central and southern California and 81% of the variance in pup weights using forage from the female sea lion foraging range. A shift from high to poor quality forage for breeding females results in food limitation of the pups, ultimately flooding animal rescue centres with starving sea lion pups. Our study is unusual in using a long-term, fishery-independent dataset to directly address an important consequence of forage decline on the productivity of a large marine predator. Whether forage declines are environmentally driven, are due to a combination of environmental drivers and fishing removals, or are due to density-dependent interactions between forage and sea lions is uncertain. However, declining forage abundance and quality was coherent over a large area (32.5-38° N) for a decade, suggesting that trends in forage are environmentally driven.

  11. Food limitation of sea lion pups and the decline of forage off central and southern California

    PubMed Central

    McClatchie, Sam; Field, John; Thompson, Andrew R.; Gerrodette, Tim; Lowry, Mark; Fiedler, Paul C.; Watson, William; Nieto, Karen M.; Vetter, Russell D.

    2016-01-01

    California sea lions increased from approximately 50 000 to 340 000 animals in the last 40 years, and their pups are starving and stranding on beaches in southern California, raising questions about the adequacy of their food supply. We investigated whether the declining sea lion pup weight at San Miguel rookery was associated with changes in abundance and quality of sardine, anchovy, rockfish and market squid forage. In the last decade off central California, where breeding female sea lions from San Miguel rookery feed, sardine and anchovy greatly decreased in biomass, whereas market squid and rockfish abundance increased. Pup weights fell as forage food quality declined associated with changes in the relative abundances of forage species. A model explained 67% of the variance in pup weights using forage from central and southern California and 81% of the variance in pup weights using forage from the female sea lion foraging range. A shift from high to poor quality forage for breeding females results in food limitation of the pups, ultimately flooding animal rescue centres with starving sea lion pups. Our study is unusual in using a long-term, fishery-independent dataset to directly address an important consequence of forage decline on the productivity of a large marine predator. Whether forage declines are environmentally driven, are due to a combination of environmental drivers and fishing removals, or are due to density-dependent interactions between forage and sea lions is uncertain. However, declining forage abundance and quality was coherent over a large area (32.5–38° N) for a decade, suggesting that trends in forage are environmentally driven. PMID:27069651

  12. Otter 1. 0 users' guide

    SciTech Connect

    McCune, W.W.

    1989-01-01

    OTTER (Other Techniques for Theorem-proving and Effective Research) is a resolution-style theorem-proving program for first-order logic with equality. OTTER includes the inference rules binary resolution, hyperresolution, UR-resolution, and binary paramodulation. Some of its other abilities are conversion from first-order formulas to clauses, forward and back subsumption, factoring, weighting, answer literals, term ordering, forward and back demodulation, and evaluable functions and predicates. OTTER is coded in C, and it is portable to a wide variety of computers. 12 refs.

  13. Can large scale sea ice cover changes affect precipitation patterns over California?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cvijanovic, I.; Bonfils, C.; Lucas, D. D.; Santer, B. D.; Chiang, J. C. H.

    2015-12-01

    Pronounced Arctic sea ice loss since the beginning of the satellite era has intensified the interest into whether these high latitude changes can significantly influence the weather and climate far from the Arctic. Current attempts to demonstrate statistically significant remote responses to sea ice changes have been hindered by factors such as large high latitude variability, relatively short observational datasets, and model limitations in adequately representing current sea ice changes. In this study, we sample uncertainty in sea ice physics parameters and variability in atmospheric initial conditions to obtain an ensemble of simulations with substantially different states of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice cover. This large ensemble isolates a robust, statistically significant climate change response arising from changes in sea ice cover only. Our results show a significant link between Arctic and Antarctic sea ice cover changes and precipitation across the tropical Atlantic and Pacific basins, the Sahel, and the west coast of the United States. For example, large Arctic sea ice decline leads to a northward shift of the tropical convergence zone, increased subsidence over the southwest United States and a geopotential anomaly over the North Pacific; with all of these factors resulting in significant drying over California. We conclude that high-latitude sea ice cover changes are an important driver of low-latitude precipitation. Consequently, reliable predictions of future precipitation changes over areas such as California (and the Sahel) will strongly depend on our ability to adequately simulate both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice changes. This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344 and is released as LLNL-ABS-675694.

  14. Divergent Skull Morphology Supports Two Trophic Specializations in Otters (Lutrinae)

    PubMed Central

    Timm-Davis, Lori L.; DeWitt, Thomas J.; Marshall, Christopher D.

    2015-01-01

    Variation in terrestrial mammalian skull morphology is known to constrain feeding performance, which in turn influences dietary habits and ultimately fitness. Among mustelids, otters have evolved two feeding specializations: underwater raptorial capture of prey (mouth-oriented) and capture of prey by hand (hand-oriented), both of which have likely associations with morphology and bite performance. However, feeding biomechanics and performance data for otters are sparse. The first goal of this study was to investigate the relationships between feeding morphology and bite performance among two mouth-oriented piscivores (Pteronura brasiliensis and Lontra canadensis) and two hand-oriented invertebrate specialists (Enhydra lutris and Aonyx cinerea). Since other vertebrate taxa that are mouth-oriented piscivores tend to possess longer skulls and mandibles, with jaws designed for increased velocity at the expense of biting capability, we hypothesized that mouth-oriented otters would also possess long, narrow skulls indicative of high velocity jaws. Conversely, hand-oriented otters were expected to possess short, blunt skulls with adaptations to increase bite force and crushing capability. Concomitant with these skull shapes we hypothesized that sea otters would possess a greater mandibular bluntness index, providing for a greater mechanical advantage compared to other otter species investigated. A second goal was to examine morphological variation at a finer scale by assessing variation in cranial morphology among three sea otter subspecies. Since diet varies among these subspecies, and their populations are isolated, we hypothesized that the magnitude of mandibular bluntness and concomitant mechanical advantage, as well as occlusal surface area would also vary within species according to their primary food source (fish versus hard invertebrates). Functional expectations were met for comparisons among and within species. Among species the phylogeny suggests a deeply

  15. Sea-level rise and coastal groundwater inundation and shoaling at select sites in California, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hoover, Daniel J.; Odigie, Kingsley; Swarzenski, Peter W.; Barnard, Patrick

    2016-01-01

    Study regionThe study region spans coastal California, USA, and focuses on three primary sites: Arcata, Stinson Beach, and Malibu Lagoon.Study focus1 m and 2 m sea-level rise (SLR) projections were used to assess vulnerability to SLR-driven groundwater emergence and shoaling at select low-lying, coastal sites in California. Separate and combined inundation scenarios for SLR and groundwater emergence were developed using digital elevation models of study site topography and groundwater surfaces constructed from well data or published groundwater level contours.New hydrological insights for the regionSLR impacts are a serious concern in coastal California which has a long (∼1800 km) and populous coastline. Information on the possible importance of SLR-driven groundwater inundation in California is limited. In this study, the potential for SLR-driven groundwater inundation at three sites (Arcata, Stinson Beach, and Malibu Lagoon) was investigated under 1 m and 2 m SLR scenarios. These sites provide insight into the vulnerability of Northern California coastal plains, coastal developments built on beach sand or sand spits, and developed areas around coastal lagoons associated with seasonal streams and berms. Northern California coastal plains with abundant shallow groundwater likely will see significant and widespread groundwater emergence, while impacts along the much drier central and southern California coast may be less severe due to the absence of shallow groundwater in many areas. Vulnerability analysis is hampered by the lack of data on shallow coastal aquifers, which commonly are not studied because they are not suitable for domestic or agricultural use. Shallow saline aquifers may be present in many areas along coastal California, which would dramatically increase vulnerability to SLR-driven groundwater emergence and shoaling. Improved understanding of the extent and response of California coastal aquifers to SLR will help in preparing for mitigation

  16. A Robotic Platform to Study the Foreflipper of the California Sea Lion.

    PubMed

    Kulkarni, Aditya A; Patel, Rahi K; Friedman, Chen; Leftwich, Megan C

    2017-01-10

    The California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), is an agile and powerful swimmer. Unlike many successful swimmers (dolphins, tuna), they generate most of their thrust with their large foreflippers. This protocol describes a robotic platform designed to study the hydrodynamic performance of the swimming California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). The robot is a model of the animal's foreflipper that is actuated by motors to replicate the motion of its propulsive stroke (the 'clap'). The kinematics of the sea lion's propulsive stroke are extracted from video data of unmarked, non-research sea lions at the Smithsonian Zoological Park (SNZ). Those data form the basis of the actuation motion of the robotic flipper presented here. The geometry of the robotic flipper is based a on high-resolution laser scan of a foreflipper of an adult female sea lion, scaled to about 60% of the full-scale flipper. The articulated model has three joints, mimicking the elbow, wrist and knuckle joint of the sea lion foreflipper. The robotic platform matches dynamics properties-Reynolds number and tip speed-of the animal when accelerating from rest. The robotic flipper can be used to determine the performance (forces and torques) and resulting flowfields.

  17. ASSOCIATION BETWEEN POSITIVE CANINE HEARTWORM (DIROFILARIA IMMITIS) ANTIGEN RESULTS AND PRESENCE OF ACANTHOCHEILONEMA ODENDHALI MICROFILARIA IN CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS (ZALOPHUS CALIFORNIANUS).

    PubMed

    Krucik, David D R; Van Bonn, William; Johnson, Shawn P

    2016-03-01

    This study establishes a relationship between positive canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) test results frequently observed in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and infection with the filarid nematode Acanthocheilonema odendhali. Four commercially available canine heartworm antigen tests were evaluated for cross-reaction with A. odendhali in California sea lions. Sera were tested from fifteen California sea lions with A. odendhali-associated microfilaremia, confirmed by blood smear, and with no evidence of D. immitis infection at necropsy. Ninety-five percent of tests were falsely positive for D. immitis. This study also determined that the prevalence of A. odendhali infection in stranded California sea lions from central California is approximately 23% by comparing the number of findings of mircofilaremia to the total number of California sea lions sampled at The Marine Mammal Center between 2005 and 2011, inclusive. Acanthocheilonema odenhali microfilaremia in California sea lions is likely to cross-react with canine heartworm antigen tests, and clinicians should interpret results with caution.

  18. Monitoring glucocorticoid response to rehabilitation and research procedures in California and Steller sea lions.

    PubMed

    Petrauskas, Lisa; Atkinson, Shannon; Gulland, Frances; Mellish, Jo-Ann; Horning, Markus

    2008-03-01

    We used serum and fecal corticosteroid analysis to study the physiological response to a range of invasive and non-invasive procedures in sea lions. Four experimental groups of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus; Group A: restraint only [n=9], Group B: gas anesthesia without surgery [n=10], Group C: minimally invasive surgery [n=10], and Group D: invasive surgery [n=5]) were monitored for adrenal response. Feces were collected opportunistically from 72 hr before 72 hr post procedure for corticosterone analysis. All experimental groups showed substantial individual variation and no significant change in corticosterone levels after the procedures. Additional fecal and serum corticoid samples were collected from six free-ranging Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in temporary captivity undergoing abdominal implantation of long-term telemetry devices. Only one sea lion exhibited a significant fecal corticosterone increase in response to the surgery. Capture and restraint appear to elicit a greater glucocorticoid response than invasive or non-invasive procedures.

  19. Molluscan evidence for a late Pleistocene sea-level lowstand from Monterey Bay, central California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Powell, Charles L.

    1994-01-01

    One hundred and twenty-three molluscan taxa are reported from four samples collected from a sea level lowstand deposit located between 100 m and 300 m below sea level in Monterey Bay, central California. Ecological interpretations of these mollusks suggest temperatures essentially equivalent to those from Puget Sound, Washington, to southern British Columbia; much cooler water than exists in Monterey Bay today; and water depths of about 10 to 50 m. Chlamys rubida from these deposits yield a 14C age determination of about 17,000 yr B. P. This age is generally equivalent to a worldwide sea level lowstand between 20,000 and 15,000 yr B. P. of at least 100 m below modern sea level. The cooler and shallow-water aspect of the lowstand molluscan fauna is in full accord with the late Pleistocene paleogeography of Monterey Bay.

  20. At-sea distribution and abundance of seabirds off southern California: A 20-year comparison

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Mason, J.W.; McChesney, G.J.; McIver, W.R.; Carter, H.R.; Takekawa, J.Y.; Golightly, R.T.; Ackerman, J.T.; Orthmeyer, D.L.; Perry, W.M.; Yee, J.L.; Pierson, M.O.; McCrary, M.D.

    2007-01-01

    We conducted aerial at-sea and coastal surveys to examine the distribution and abundance of seabirds off southern California, from Cambria, California, to the Mexican border. From May 1999-January 2002, we flew 102 d, covered >54,640 km of transect lines, and conducted nine complete surveys of southern California in January, May, and September. We identified 54 species comprising 12 families and counted >135,000 individuals. Seabird densities were greater along island and mainland coastlines than at sea and were usually greatest in January surveys. Densities were greatest at sea near the northern Channel Islands in January and north of Point Conception in May, and lowest in the southwestern portion of the Southern California Bight in all survey months. On coastal transects, seabird densities were greatest along central and southern portions of the mainland coastline from Point Arguello to Mexico. We estimated that 981,000 ?? 144,000 (x?? ?? SE) seabirds occurred in the study area in January, 862,000 ?? 95,000 in May, and 762,000 ?? 72,000 in September. California Gulls (Larus californicus), Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis), and Cassin's Auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) were most abundant in January surveys at sea, whereas Sooty and Short-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus griseus and P. tenuirostris), phalaropes (Phalaropus spp.), and Western Gulls (Larus. occidentalis) were most abundant in May and September surveys. On coastal transects, California Gulls, Western Grebes, Western Gulls, and Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) were most abundant in January; Western Grebes, Western Gulls, Surf Scoters, and Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) were most abundant in May; and Sooty Shearwaters, Short-tailed Shearwaters, Western Gulls, Western Grebes, Brown Pelicans, and Heermann's Gulls (Larus heermanni) were most abundant in September. Compared to historical seabird densities collected in the same area two decades ago (1975-1978 and 1980-1983), abundance

  1. Meningoencephalitis in two stranded California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) caused by aberrant trematode migration.

    PubMed

    Fauquier, Deborah; Gulland, Frances; Haulena, Martin; Dailey, Murray; Rietcheck, Randall L; Lipscomb, Thomas P

    2004-10-01

    Meningoencephalitis caused by aberrant trematode migration is described in two California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) admitted to a rehabilitation hospital between May and August 2001. Both animals displayed seizure activity and were euthanized due to poor response to therapy. Gross abnormal findings included liver flukes (Zalophotrema hepaticum) in the bile ducts and areas of swelling and necrosis in the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem. Histopathology revealed meningoencephalitis with necrosis, hemorrhage, and many trematode eggs within the brain. In one sea lion, an adult trematode was found on the surface of the cerebrum. These are believed to be the first reported cases of meningoencephalitis caused by aberrant trematode migration in pinnipeds.

  2. Infection of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) with terrestrial Brucella spp.

    PubMed

    Avalos-Téllez, Rosalía; Ramírez-Pfeiffer, Carlos; Hernández-Castro, Rigoberto; Díaz-Aparicio, Efrén; Sánchez-Domínguez, Carlos; Zavala-Norzagaray, Alan; Arellano-Reynoso, Beatriz; Suárez-Güemes, Francisco; Aguirre, A Alonso; Aurioles-Gamboa, David

    2014-10-01

    Infections with Brucella ceti and pinnipedialis are prevalent in marine mammals worldwide. A total of 22 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) were examined to determine their exposure to Brucella spp. at San Esteban Island in the Gulf of California, Mexico, in June and July 2011. Although samples of blood, vaginal mucus and milk cultured negative for these bacteria, the application of rose Bengal, agar gel immunodiffusion, PCR and modified fluorescence polarization assays found that five animals (22.7%) had evidence of exposure to Brucella strains. The data also suggested that in two of these five sea lions the strains involved were of terrestrial origin, a novel finding in marine mammals. Further work will be required to validate and determine the epidemiological significance of this finding.

  3. Mortality of sea lions along the central California coast linked to a toxic diatom bloom.

    PubMed

    Scholin, C A; Gulland, F; Doucette, G J; Benson, S; Busman, M; Chavez, F P; Cordaro, J; DeLong, R; De Vogelaere, A; Harvey, J; Haulena, M; Lefebvre, K; Lipscomb, T; Loscutoff, S; Lowenstine, L J; Marin, R; Miller, P E; McLellan, W A; Moeller, P D; Powell, C L; Rowles, T; Silvagni, P; Silver, M; Spraker, T; Trainer, V; Van Dolah, F M

    2000-01-06

    Over 400 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) died and many others displayed signs of neurological dysfunction along the central California coast during May and June 1998. A bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia australis (diatom) was observed in the Monterey Bay region during the same period. This bloom was associated with production of domoic acid (DA), a neurotoxin that was also detected in planktivorous fish, including the northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), and in sea lion body fluids. These and other concurrent observations demonstrate the trophic transfer of DA resulting in marine mammal mortality. In contrast to fish, blue mussels (Mytilus edulus) collected during the DA outbreak contained no DA or only trace amounts. Such findings reveal that monitoring of mussel toxicity alone does not necessarily provide adequate warning of DA entering the food web at levels sufficient to harm marine wildlife and perhaps humans.

  4. Sea-cliff erosion at Pacifica, California caused by 1997/98 El Nino storms

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Snell, Charles B.; Lajoie, K.R.; Medley, Edward W.

    2000-01-01

    Twelve homes were constructed in 1949 at the top of a sea cliff along Esplanade Drive in the City of Pacifica, located on the northern coast of San Mateo County, California. During the heavy storms of the 1997/98 El Nino winter, a severe episode of cliff retreat undermined seven homes and threatened three others. The geologic, tide, wave, rainfall and wind data were analyzed to determine the causes of this erosion events.

  5. PHARMACOKINETICS OF SINGLE-DOSE ORALLY ADMINISTERED CIPROFLOXACIN IN CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS (ZALOPHUS CALIFORNIANUS).

    PubMed

    Barbosa, Lorraine; Johnson, Shawn P; Papich, Mark G; Gulland, Frances

    2015-06-01

    Ciprofloxacin is commonly selected for clinical use due to its broad-spectrum efficacy and is a frequently administered antibiotic at The Marine Mammal Center, a marine mammal rehabilitation facility. Ciprofloxacin is used for treatment of California sea lions ( Zalophus californianus ) suffering from a variety of bacterial infections at doses extrapolated from other mammalian species. However, as oral absorption is variable both within and across species, a more accurate determination of appropriate dosage is needed to ensure effective treatment and avoid emergence of drug-resistant bacterial strains. A pharmacokinetic study was performed to assess plasma concentrations of ciprofloxacin in California sea lions after a single oral dose. Twenty healthy California sea lions received a single 10-mg/kg oral dose of ciprofloxacin administered in a herring fish. Blood was then collected at two of the following times from each individual: 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 18, and 24 hr postingestion. Plasma ciprofloxacin concentration was assessed via high-performance liquid chromatography. A population pharmacokinetics model demonstrated that an oral ciprofloxacin dose of 10 mg/kg achieved an area under the concentration vs. time curve of 6.01 μg hr/ml. Absorption was rapid, with ciprofloxacin detectable in plasma 0.54 hr after drug administration; absorption half-life was 0.09 hr. A maximum plasma concentration of 1.21 μg/ml was observed at 1.01 hr, with an elimination half-life of 3.09 hr. Ciprofloxacin administered orally at 10 mg/kg produced therapeutic antibacterial exposure for only some of the most susceptible bacterial organisms commonly isolated from California sea lions.

  6. Blood Oxygen Depletion in Diving California Sea Lions: How Close to the Limit

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2011-09-30

    often calculated (cADL) on the basis of total body O2 stores and an estimated diving metabolic rate , has become an essential concept in the...interpretation of diving behavior and foraging ecology (Kooyman and Ponganis 1998); however, the actual rate and magnitude of O2 store depletion during dives...has not been determined in any otariid. This project will document the rate and magnitude of blood O2 store depletion during diving in California sea

  7. Possible importance of algal toxins in the Salton Sea, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reifel, K.M.; McCoy, M.P.; Rocke, T.E.; Tiffany, M.A.; Hurlbert, S.H.; Faulkner, D.J.

    2002-01-01

    In response to wildlife mortality including unexplained eared grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) die-off events in 1992 and 1994 and other mortality events including large fish kills, a survey was conducted for the presence of algal toxins in the Salton Sea. Goals of this survey were to determine if and when algal toxins are present in the Salton Sea and to describe the phytoplankton composition during those times. A total of 29 samples was collected for toxicity analysis from both nearshore and midlake sites visited biweekly from January to December 1999. Dinoflagellates and diatoms dominated most samples, but some were dominated by a prymnesiophyte (Pleurochrysis pseudoroscoffensis) or a raphidophyte (Chattonella marina). Several types of blooms were observed and sampled. The dinoflagellate Gyrodinium uncatenum formed an extensive, dense (up to 310 000 cells ml-1) and long-lasting bloom during the winter in 1999. A coccolithophorid, Pleurochrysis pseudoroscoffensis, occurred at high densities in surface films and nearshore areas during the spring and summer of 1999. These surface films also contained high densities of one or two other species (an unidentified scrippsielloid, Heterocapsa niei, Chattonella marina). Localized blooms were also observed in the Salton Sea. An unknown small dinoflagellate reached high densities (110 000 cells ml-1) inside Varner Harbor, and an unidentified species of Gymnodinium formed a dense (270 000 cells ml-1) band along part of the southern shoreline during the summer. Three species known to produce toxins in other systems were found. Protoceratium reticulatum (=Gonyaulax grindleyi) and Chattonella marina were found in several samples taken during summer months, and Prorocentrum minimum was found in low densities in several samples. Extracts of most samples, including those containing known toxic species, showed a low level (<10% mortality across all concentrations) of activity in the brine shrimp lethality assay and were not considered

  8. Evaporation and radiation measurements at Salton Sea, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sturrock, Alex M.

    1978-01-01

    Evaporation from Salton Sea, Calif. was computed for a 539-day period between duly 14, 1967, and January 2, 1969, by use of energy-budget, mass-transfer, and water-budget methods. The total evaporation computed by the three methods agreed within 5 percent. For computing evaporation by the mass-transfer method, vapor pressure measured at raft stations on the sea was considered to be more representative of the conditions over the sea than vapor pressure measured at land stations. The values of heat transfer to and from the bed were used in energy-budget computations. The inclusion of these heat transfer values improved the correlation of evaporation computed by the energy-budget and water-budget methods. Monthly evaporation computed by the energy budget method for 1968 showed that the Salton Sea exhibited a double-wave evaporation similar to that of oceans in the same latitude. Weekly and monthly comparisons were made to determine if radiation measured by the flat-plate radiometer is seasonally biased. Weekly totals of radiation from three flat-plate radiometers were compared to values of a Cummings Radiation Integrator. Monthly totals of radiation for each of the two types of instruments were compared to an empirical method for determining radiation. These comparisons indicate that the measurements of radiation by the flat-plate radiometer are not seasonally biased, and that the Cummings Radiation Integrator gives reliable measurements of radiation for periods as short as 1 week. The net incoming radiation was measured at three stations around the Salton Sea. The areal variation was less than 1 percent on an annual basis and the largest weekly variation was less than 6 percent. An empirical mass-transfer coefficient, N, was determined from energy-budget measurements. The value of this coefficient to give evaporation in inches per day is 0.00245 when the windspeed is expressed in miles per hour and vapor pressure is expressed in millibars. The coefficient is valid

  9. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Western Region: Coastal ecosystem responses to influences from land and sea, Coastal and Ocean Science

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bodkin, James L.

    2010-01-01

    Sea otters and the nearshore ecosystems they inhabit-from highly urbanized California to relatively pristine Alaska-are the focus of a new multidisciplinary study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and a suite of international, academic and government collaborators. The Coastal Ecosystem Responses to Influences from Land and Sea project will investigate the many interacting variables that influence the health of coastal ecosystems along the Northeast Pacific shore. These ecosystems face unprecedented challenges, with threats arising from the adjacent oceans and lands. From the ocean, challenges include acidification, sea level rise, and warming. From the land, challenges include elevated biological, geological and chemical pollutants associated with burgeoning human populations along coastlines. The implications of these challenges for biological systems are only beginning to be explored. Comparing sea otter population status indicators from around the northeastern Pacific Rim, will begin the process of defining factors of coastal ecosystem health in this broad region.

  10. Ectopic pregnancy with associated gestational choriocarcinoma in a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Fravel, Vanessa A; Lowenstine, Linda J; Koehne, Amanda

    2016-07-07

    A wild-born, captive-reared, 14 yr old, primiparous female California sea lion Zalophus californianus presented for anorexia of 14 d duration and abdominal distention. Routine complete blood cell count revealed leukocytosis with a neutrophilia, and serum chemistry revealed hypoalbumenemia and hyponatremia. Treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories were started, but the animal continued to decline. Abdominal radiographs revealed a mature mineralized fetal skull and spine in the caudal abdomen and abdominal ultrasound revealed ascites but could not confirm the fetus. The patient was taken to surgery where a full term fetus was found outside of the uterus but within the fetal membranes, representing a secondary ectopic pregnancy. The patient passed away during surgery and was taken to necropsy. Gross necropsy revealed a diffuse peritonitis with yellow deposits over the serosal surfaces of the abdominal organs. The uterus appeared intact grossly and the ovaries appeared abnormal. The mesenteric, renal, and sub-lumbar nodes were enlarged and edematous. Histopathology revealed choriocarcinoma in the right uterine horn with evidence of chronic uterine rupture and protrusion of the placental tissue into the abdomen. The choriocarcinoma had metastasized locally as well as to the liver, spleen and lung. Choriocarcinoma is a highly malignant trophoblastic neoplasm that is rare in domestic animals. This case represents, to the authors' knowledge, the first report of gestational choriocarcinoma causing secondary ectopic pregnancy in a California sea lion and presents questions regarding pregnancy monitoring and management in a population of captive, minimally trained California sea lions.

  11. Temporal summation of airborne tones in a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Holt, Marla M; Ghoul, Asila; Reichmuth, Colleen

    2012-11-01

    The trade-off between sound level and duration on hearing sensitivity (temporal summation) was investigated in a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) using airborne pure-tone stimuli. Thresholds were behaviorally measured using the method of constant stimuli at 2.5, 5, and 10 kHz for nine signal durations ranging from 25 to 500 ms. In general, thresholds decreased as duration increased up to 300 ms, beyond which thresholds did not significantly improve. When these data were fitted separately to two versions of an exponential model, the estimated time constants (92-167 ms) were generally consistent between the two fits. However, the model with more free parameters generated fits with consistently higher R(2) values, while avoiding potential arbitrary decisions about which data to include. The time constants derived for the California sea lion were generally consistent with those reported for other mammals, including other pinnipeds. The current study did not show a clear correlation between time constant and test frequency. The results should be considered when conducting audiometric work, assessing communications ranges, and evaluating potential noise impacts of airborne tonal signals on California sea lions.

  12. Sea-floor gouges caused by migrating gray whales off northern California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Cacchione, D.A.; Drake, D.E.; Field, M.E.; Tate, G.B.

    1987-01-01

    Side-scan sonar records collected during March and April 1981 and 1982 off northern California contain elongate depressions whose sizes and shapes are similar to sea-floor gouges made by feeding gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) in the northern Bering Sea and in shallow embayments off British Columbia. The discovery of the whale gouges in the sonar records was unexpected, and supports some of the previous speculation that gray whales feed opportunistically during migration. Gouges occupy about 0.032% of the 7.6 km2 of sea floor that was surveyed, which represents about 575 metric tons of excavated material. Although seemingly minor in amount, the total amount of bottom sediment removed from the central and northern California continental shelf by gray whale activities year after year represents macroscale biologically induced erosion and could have significant geological implications in shelf erosion and depositional schemes. This is the only published evidence of benthic feeding by gray whales along their migration route off northern California. ?? 1987.

  13. Hippocampal neuropathology of domoic acid-induced epilepsy in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Buckmaster, Paul S; Wen, Xiling; Toyoda, Izumi; Gulland, Frances M D; Van Bonn, William

    2014-05-01

    California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are abundant human-sized carnivores with large gyrencephalic brains. They develop epilepsy after experiencing status epilepticus when naturally exposed to domoic acid. We tested whether sea lions previously exposed to DA (chronic DA sea lions) display hippocampal neuropathology similar to that of human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Hippocampi were obtained from control and chronic DA sea lions. Stereology was used to estimate numbers of Nissl-stained neurons per hippocampus in the granule cell layer, hilus, and pyramidal cell layer of CA3, CA2, and CA1 subfields. Adjacent sections were processed for somatostatin immunoreactivity or Timm-stained, and the extent of mossy fiber sprouting was measured stereologically. Chronic DA sea lions displayed hippocampal neuron loss in patterns and extents similar but not identical to those reported previously for human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Similar to human patients, hippocampal sclerosis in sea lions was unilateral in 79% of cases, mossy fiber sprouting was a common neuropathological abnormality, and somatostatin-immunoreactive axons were exuberant in the dentate gyrus despite loss of immunopositive hilar neurons. Thus, hippocampal neuropathology of chronic DA sea lions is similar to that of human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.

  14. The role of organochlorines in cancer-associated mortality in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Ylitalo, Gina M; Stein, John E; Hom, Tom; Johnson, Lyndal L; Tilbury, Karen L; Hall, Ailsa J; Rowles, Teri; Greig, Denise; Lowenstine, Linda J; Gulland, Frances M D

    2005-01-01

    Wild California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) have an unusually high prevalence of neoplasms (18% of stranded dead adults) and high levels of contaminants. The contribution of organochlorine (OC) tissue burdens to the probability of sea lions dying from carcinoma was explored using a logistic regression model. Levels of PCBs and DDTs were determined in blubber of sea lions diagnosed with metastatic carcinoma and animals that had died from non-carcinoma-related incidents (e.g., gunshot, domoic acid poisoning). Animals with carcinoma had higher mean concentrations (based on wet weight) of PCBs and DDTs (more than 85% and 30% higher, respectively) in blubber than did sea lions without carcinoma; the highest concentrations of OCs in the sea lions affected with carcinoma were measured in the males. Blubber thickness was significantly different between the two groups of sea lions, but after controlling for this difference, there was still a significant effect of PCBs, but not DDTs, on the probability of sea lions dying with carcinoma. Age, sex, mass and length did not affect the probability of dying from carcinoma.

  15. Hippocampal neuropathology of domoic acid-induced epilepsy in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)

    PubMed Central

    Buckmaster, Paul S.; Wen, Xiling; Toyoda, Izumi; Gulland, Frances M. D.; Van Bonn, William

    2014-01-01

    California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are abundant human-sized carnivores with large gyrencephalic brains. They develop epilepsy after experiencing status epilepticus when naturally exposed to domoic acid. We tested whether sea lions previously exposed to DA (chronic DA sea lions) display hippocampal neuropathology similar to that of human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Hippocampi were obtained from control and chronic DA sea lions. Stereology was used to estimate numbers of Nissl-stained neurons per hippocampus in the granule cell layer, hilus, and the pyramidal cell layer of CA3, CA2, and CA1 subfields. Adjacent sections were processed for somatostatin-immunoreactivity or Timm-stained, and the extent of mossy fiber sprouting was measured stereologically. Chronic DA sea lions displayed hippocampal neuron loss in patterns and extents similar but not identical to those reported previously for human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Similar to human patients, hippocampal sclerosis in sea lions was unilateral in 79% of cases, mossy fiber sprouting was a common neuropathological abnormality, and somatostatin-immunoreactive axons were exuberant in the dentate gyrus despite loss of immunopositive hilar neurons. Thus, hippocampal neuropathology of chronic DA sea lions is similar to that of human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. PMID:24638960

  16. Accuracy of Wind Prediction Methods in the California Sea Breeze

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sumers, B. D.; Dvorak, M. J.; Ten Hoeve, J. E.; Jacobson, M. Z.

    2010-12-01

    In this study, we investigate the accuracy of measure-correlate-predict (MCP) algorithms and log law/power law scaling using data from two tall towers in coastal environments. We find that MCP algorithms accurately predict sea breeze winds and that log law/power law scaling methods struggle to predict 50-meter wind speeds. MCP methods have received significant attention as the wind industry has grown and the ability to accurately characterize the wind resource has become valuable. These methods are used to produce longer-term wind speed records from short-term measurement campaigns. A correlation is developed between the “target site,” where the developer is interested in building wind turbines, and a “reference site,” where long-term wind data is available. Up to twenty years of prior wind speeds are then are predicted. In this study, two existing MCP methods - linear regression and Mortimer’s method - are applied to predict 50-meter wind speeds at sites in the Salinas Valley and Redwood City, CA. The predictions are then verified with tall tower data. It is found that linear regression is poorly suited to MCP applications as the process produces inaccurate estimates of the cube of the wind speed at 50 meters. Meanwhile, Mortimer’s method, which bins data by direction and speed, is found to accurately predict the cube of the wind speed in both sea breeze and non-sea breeze conditions. We also find that log and power law are unstable predictors of wind speeds. While these methods produced accurate estimates of the average 50-meter wind speed at both sites, they predicted an average cube of the wind speed that was between 1.3 and 1.18 times the observed value. Inspection of time-series error reveals increased error in the mid-afternoon of the summer. This suggests that the cold sea breeze may disrupt the vertical temperature profile, create a stable atmosphere and violate the assumptions that allow log law scaling to work.

  17. Chemical evolution of the Salton Sea, California: Nutrient and selenium dynamics

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Schroeder, R.A.; Orem, W.H.; Kharaka, Y.K.

    2002-01-01

    The Salton Sea is a 1000-km2 terminal lake located in the desert area of southeastern California. This saline (???44 000 mg l-1 dissolved solids) lake started as fresh water in 1905-07 by accidental flooding of the Colorado River, and it is maintained by agricultural runoff of irrigation water diverted from the Colorado River. The Salton Sea and surrounding wetlands have recently acquired substantial ecological importance because of the death of large numbers of birds and fish, and the establishment of a program to restore the health of the Sea. In this report, we present new data on the salinity and concentration of selected chemicals in the Salton Sea water, porewater and sediments, emphasizing the constituents of concern: nutrients (N and P), Se and salinity. Chemical profiles from a Salton Sea core estimated to have a sedimentation rate of 2.3 mm yr-1 show increasing concentrations of OC, N, and P in younger sediment that are believed to reflect increasing eutrophication of the lake. Porewater profiles from two locations in the Sea show that diffusion from bottom sediment is only a minor source of nutrients to the overlying water as compared to irrigation water inputs. Although loss of N and Se by microbial-mediated volatilization is possible, comparison of selected element concentrations in river inputs and water and sediments from the Salton Sea indicates that most of the N (from fertilizer) and virtually all of the Se (delivered in irrigation water from the Colorado River) discharged to the Sea still reside within its bottom sediment. Laboratory simulation on mixtures of sediment and water from the Salton Sea suggest that sediment is a potential source of N and Se to the water column under aerobic conditions. Hence, it is important that any engineered changes made to the Salton Sea for remediation or for transfer of water out of the basin do not result in remobilization of nutrients and Se from the bottom sediment into the overlying water.

  18. Evaporation and radiation measurements at Salton Sea, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sturrock, Alex M.

    1977-01-01

    Evaporation from the Salton Sea, Calif., was computed for a 539-day period between July 14, 1967, and January 2, 1969, by use of energy-budget, mass-transfer, and water budget methods. The total evaporation computed by the three methods agreed within 5 percent. The values of heat transfer to and from the bed were used in the energy-budget computations. Monthly evaporation computed by the energy-budget method for 1968 showed that the Salton Sea exhibited a double wave evaporation similar to that of oceans in the same latitude. Weekly and montly comparisons were made to determine if radiation measured by the flat-plate radiometer is seasonally biased. These comparisons indicate that the measurements of radiation by the flat-plate radiometer are not seasonally biased, and that the Cummings Radiation Integrator gives reliable measurements of radiation for periods as short as 1 week. An empirical mass-transfer coefficient, N, as determined from energy-budget measurements. The value of this coefficient to give evaporation in inches per day is 0.00245 when the windspeed is expressed in miles per hour and the vapor pressure expressed in millibars. (Woodard-USGS)

  19. Identification of two novel coccidian species shed by California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Johnson, Christine K; Miller, Robin H; Gulland, Frances M D; Conrad, Patricia A; Wasmuth, James D; Colegrove, Kathleen M; Grigg, Michael E

    2012-04-01

    Routine fecal examination revealed novel coccidian oocysts in asymptomatic California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in a rehabilitation facility. Coccidian oocysts were observed in fecal samples collected from 15 of 410 California sea lions admitted to The Marine Mammal Center between April 2007 and October 2009. Phylogenetic analysis using the full ITS-1 region, partial small subunit 18S rDNA sequence, and the Apicomplexa rpoB region identified 2 distinct sequence clades, referred to as Coccidia A and Coccidia B, and placed them in the Sarcocystidae, grouped with the tissue-cyst-forming coccidia. Both sequence clades resolved as individual taxa at ITS-1 and rpoB and were most closely related to Neospora caninum. Coccidia A was identified in 11 and Coccidia B in 4 of 12 sea lion oocyst samples successfully sequenced (3 of those sea lions were co-infected with both parasites). Shedding of Coccidia A oocysts was not associated with age class, sex, or stranding location, but yearlings represented the majority of shedders (8/15). This is the first study to use molecular phylogenetics to identify and describe coccidian parasites shed by a marine mammal.

  20. Otarine Herpesvirus-1, not papillomavirus, is associated with endemic tumours in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Buckles, E L; Lowenstine, L J; Funke, C; Vittore, R K; Wong, H-N; St Leger, J A; Greig, Denise J; Duerr, R S; Gulland, F M D; Stott, J L

    2006-11-01

    The purpose of this study was to determine if Otarine Herpesvirus-1 (OtHV-1) is associated with the presence of urogenital carcinomas in California sea lions. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis with primers specific for OtHV-1 was used to compare the prevalence of OtHV-1 infection in 15 sea lions affected by urogenital carcinoma with that of age-matched and juvenile tumour-free animals, and animals with tumours of non-urogenital origin. The herpesvirus was more prevalent (100%) and more widespread in the 15 animals with urogenital carcinoma than in 25 control animals, and was most often found in the urogenital tissue (vagina and prostate) and in the draining lymph nodes. Moreover, OtHV-1 DNA was not found in any juvenile animal, or in the neoplastic tissues of animals with non-urogenital tumours. Papillomavirus-specific PCR analysis of urogenital carcinoma tissues detected papillomavirus sequences in only one carcinomatous tissue. Further studies are needed to determine if OtHV-1 contributes to oncogenesis in the California sea lion; these data show, however, that OtHV-1 is associated with urogenital carcinomas, is preferentially present in urogenital tissues, and may be sexually transmitted. Papillomaviruses, which are known to contribute to urogenital tumours in other species, did not appear to be associated with the sea lion carcinomas.

  1. IDENTIFICATION OF TWO NOVEL COCCIDIAN SPECIES SHED BY CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS (ZALOPHUS CALIFORNIANUS)

    PubMed Central

    Carlson-Bremer, Daphne; Johnson, Christine K.; Miller, Robin H.; Gulland, Frances M. D.; Conrad, Patricia A.; Wasmuth, James D.; Colegrove, Kathleen M.

    2016-01-01

    Routine fecal examination revealed novel coccidian oocysts in asymptomatic California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in a rehabilitation facility. Coccidian oocysts were observed in fecal samples collected from 15 of 410 California sea lions admitted to The Marine Mammal Center between April 2007 and October 2009. Phylogenetic analysis using the full ITS-1 region, partial small subunit 18S rDNA sequence, and the Apicomplexa rpoB region identified 2 distinct sequence clades, referred to as Coccidia A and Coccidia B, and placed them in the Sarcocystidae, grouped with the tissue-cyst–forming coccidia. Both sequence clades resolved as individual taxa at ITS-1 and rpoB and were most closely related to Neospora caninum. Coccidia A was identified in 11 and Coccidia B in 4 of 12 sea lion oocyst samples successfully sequenced (3 of those sea lions were co-infected with both parasites). Shedding of Coccidia A oocysts was not associated with age class, sex, or stranding location, but yearlings represented the majority of shedders (8/15). This is the first study to use molecular phylogenetics to identify and describe coccidian parasites shed by a marine mammal. PMID:22091999

  2. 33 CFR 165.T11-304 - Safety zone; Sea World Summer Nights Fireworks; Mission Bay, San Diego, California.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-07-01

    ... 33 Navigation and Navigable Waters 2 2010-07-01 2010-07-01 false Safety zone; Sea World Summer Nights Fireworks; Mission Bay, San Diego, California. 165.T11-304 Section 165.T11-304 Navigation and... Areas Eleventh Coast Guard District § 165.T11-304 Safety zone; Sea World Summer Nights...

  3. Selenium toxicosis in three California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Edwards, W C; Whitenack, D L; Alexander, J W; Solangi, M A

    1989-12-01

    Selenium poisoning occurs worldwide in nearly all domestic animals. Acute selenium poisoning is associated with feeding high levels or injecting excessive amounts of selenium and is usually fatal. The acute poisoning may cause gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle weakness, depression of the central nervous system, prostration and death (1-2). Chronic selenium poisoning in cattle, sheep and horses may result from the consumption of seleniferous plants over an extended period of time. Chronic selenium results in ataxia, incoordination, partial blindness, paralysis, loss of hair or wool, abnormal hoof growth and possibly abnormal changes in behavior (1). There is little information regarding the clinical signs and pathology of selenium toxicosis in marine mammals. Likewise, there is little information regarding normal tissue levels or toxicologically significant levels of selenium in these species. The results of these investigations in sea lions, based on clinical signs, pathologic findings and tissue levels of selenium, suggest subacute or chronic selenium poisoning was most likely from dietary fish high in selenium.

  4. Trace elements in blood of sea turtles Lepidochelys olivacea in the Gulf of California, Mexico.

    PubMed

    Zavala-Norzagaray, A A; Ley-Quiñónez, C P; Espinosa-Carreón, T L; Canizalez-Román, A; Hart, C E; Aguirre, A A

    2014-11-01

    This study determined the concentrations of heavy metals in blood collected from Pacific Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) inhabiting the coast of Guasave, Mexico, in the Gulf of California. The highest reported metal concentration in blood was Zn, followed by Se. Of nonessential toxic metals, As was reported in higher percentage compared to Cd. The concentrations of metals detected were present as follows: Zn > Se > Mn > As > Ni > Cd > Cu. Cd concentration in blood is higher in our population in comparison with other populations of L. olivacea, and even higher in other species of sea turtles. Our study reinforces the usefulness of blood for the monitoring of the levels of contaminating elements, and is easily accessible and nonlethal for sea turtles.

  5. Rapid behavioural diagnosis of domoic acid toxicosis in California sea lions.

    PubMed

    Cook, Peter; Reichmuth, Colleen; Gulland, Frances

    2011-08-23

    Domoic acid is a neurotoxic metabolite of widely occurring algal blooms that has caused multiple marine animal stranding events. Exposure to high doses of domoic acid, a glutamate agonist, may lead to persistent medial temporal seizures and damage to the hippocampus. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are among the most visible and frequent mammalian victims of domoic acid poisoning, but rapid, reliable diagnosis in a clinical setting has proved difficult owing to the fast clearance of the toxin from the blood stream. Here, we show that the behavioural orienting responses of stranded sea lions diagnosed with domoic acid toxicosis habituate more slowly to a series of non-aversive auditory stimuli than do those of sea lions with no apparent neurological deficits. A signal detection analysis based on these habituation measures was able to correctly identify 50 per cent of subjects with domoic acid toxicosis while correctly rejecting approximately 93 per cent of controls, suggesting potential diagnostic merit.

  6. Rapid behavioural diagnosis of domoic acid toxicosis in California sea lions

    PubMed Central

    Cook, Peter; Reichmuth, Colleen; Gulland, Frances

    2011-01-01

    Domoic acid is a neurotoxic metabolite of widely occurring algal blooms that has caused multiple marine animal stranding events. Exposure to high doses of domoic acid, a glutamate agonist, may lead to persistent medial temporal seizures and damage to the hippocampus. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are among the most visible and frequent mammalian victims of domoic acid poisoning, but rapid, reliable diagnosis in a clinical setting has proved difficult owing to the fast clearance of the toxin from the blood stream. Here, we show that the behavioural orienting responses of stranded sea lions diagnosed with domoic acid toxicosis habituate more slowly to a series of non-aversive auditory stimuli than do those of sea lions with no apparent neurological deficits. A signal detection analysis based on these habituation measures was able to correctly identify 50 per cent of subjects with domoic acid toxicosis while correctly rejecting approximately 93 per cent of controls, suggesting potential diagnostic merit. PMID:21389016

  7. Insights from venous oxygen profiles: oxygen utilization and management in diving California sea lions.

    PubMed

    McDonald, Birgitte I; Ponganis, Paul J

    2013-09-01

    The management and depletion of O2 stores underlie the aerobic dive capacities of marine mammals. The California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) presumably optimizes O2 store management during all dives, but approaches its physiological limits during deep dives to greater than 300 m depth. Blood O2 comprises the largest component of total body O2 stores in adult sea lions. Therefore, we investigated venous blood O2 depletion during dives of California sea lions during maternal foraging trips to sea by: (1) recording venous partial pressure of O2 (P(O2)) profiles during dives, (2) characterizing the O2-hemoglobin (Hb) dissociation curve of sea lion Hb and (3) converting the P(O2) profiles into percent Hb saturation (S(O2)) profiles using the dissociation curve. The O2-Hb dissociation curve was typical of other pinnipeds (P50=28±2 mmHg at pH 7.4). In 43% of dives, initial venous S(O2) values were greater than 78% (estimated resting venous S(O2)), indicative of arterialization of venous blood. Blood O2 was far from depleted during routine shallow dives, with minimum venous S(O2) values routinely greater than 50%. However, in deep dives greater than 4 min in duration, venous S(O2) reached minimum values below 5% prior to the end of the dive, but then increased during the last 30-60 s of ascent. These deep dive profiles were consistent with transient venous blood O2 depletion followed by partial restoration of venous O2 through pulmonary gas exchange and peripheral blood flow during ascent. These differences in venous O2 profiles between shallow and deep dives of sea lions reflect distinct strategies of O2 store management and suggest that underlying cardiovascular responses will also differ.

  8. Downhole fluid sampling at the SSSDP (Salton Sea Scientific Drilling Project) California State 2-14 well, Salton Sea, California

    SciTech Connect

    Goff, F.; Shevenell, L.; Grigsby, C.O.; Dennis, B.

    1987-07-01

    In situ fluid sampling activities were conducted at the Salton Sea Scientific Drilling Project (SSSDP) well during late December 1985 and late March 1986 to obtain unflashed samples of Salton Sea brine. In late December, three sampling runs were made to depths of approximately 1800 m and temperatures of 300/sup 0/C. In late March, 10 sampling runs were made to depths of approximately 3150 m and temperatures of 350/sup 0/C. In brief, the Los Alamos tool obtained samples from four of eight runs; the Lawrence Berkeley tool obtained samples from one of one run; the Leutert Instruments, Inc., tool obtained samples from zero of three runs; and the USGS quartz crystal experiment was lost in the well. The most complete sample was obtained from run No. 11, using the Los Alamos sampler and Sandia battery pack/controller on a wireline. About 1635 ml of brine, two noble gas samples, and two bulk gas samples were collected from this run. Samples of brine and gas from productive runs have been distributed to about 15 researchers for various types of analyses. Chemical analyses by the Los Alamos and US Geological Survey analytical teams are presented in this report, although they are not corrected for flashing and precipitation.

  9. California Ocean Research: A Sea Grant Sampler. Sea Grant Publication No. 65, Spring 1978.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Brownlee, Shannon; And Others

    This booklet, written, illustrated, edited, and produced by four interns from the science writing program of the University of California, Santa Cruz, explains seven ocean research projects. The projects are in the fields of: energy, marine education, fishery management, coastal zone management, marine advisory services, aquaculture, and new…

  10. Assessing Coastal Aquifer Response to Projected Sea Level Rise in California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Odigie, K. O.; Hoover, D. J.; Barnard, P.; Swarzenski, P. W.

    2015-12-01

    The rate of global sea-level rise (SLR) has been increasing over the past century, primarily due to global warming and associated melting of polar icecaps. Recent projections indicate that sea level could rise globally by more than 1 m by 2100. Potential impacts of SLR in coastal regions are a concern, especially in California which has a ~1,800 km long coastline and where >70% of the population live in coastal counties. However, information on potential impacts of SLR-driven groundwater inundation in California is limited. In this study, we examined potential impacts of SLR-driven groundwater inundation in select low-lying areas of California, including Arcata, Stinson Beach, and Malibu Lagoon, under +1 m and +2 m SLR scenarios. The results indicate that Arcata, Stinson Beach, and Malibu Lagoon will be impacted by SLR-driven inundation to different extents. For example, ~15% of present-day dry land in Malibu Lagoon will be inundated with groundwater and the lagoon will be expanded by >100% relative to present-day area under the +2 m SLR scenario. In addition, the area with shallow water table ≤2 m from the ground surface will increase substantially with SLR at Malibu Lagoon. SLR-driven groundwater inundation could be problematic in some low-lying coastal regions. Therefore, improved understanding of potential response of coastal aquifers to SLR could help in preparing for mitigation and adaptation.

  11. PATHOGENIC LEPTOSPIRA SEROVARS IN FREE-LIVING SEA LIONS IN THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA AND ALONG THE BAJA CALIFORNIA COAST OF MEXICO.

    PubMed

    Avalos-Téllez, Rosalía; Carrillo-Casas, Erika M; Atilano-López, Daniel; Godínez-Reyes, Carlos R; Díaz-Aparicio, Efrén; Ramírez-Delgado, David; Ramírez-Echenique, María F; Leyva-Leyva, Margarita; Suzán, Gerardo; Suárez-Güemes, Francisco

    2016-04-28

    The California sea lion ( Zalophus californianus ), a permanent inhabitant of the Gulf of California in Mexico, is susceptible to pathogenic Leptospira spp. infection, which can result in hepatic and renal damage and may lead to renal failure and death. During summer 2013, we used the microscopic agglutination test (MAT) to investigate the prevalence of anti-Leptospira antibodies in blood of clinically healthy sea lion pups from seven rookery islands on the Pacific Coast of Baja California (Pacific Ocean) and in the Gulf of California. We also used PCR to examine blood for Leptospira DNA. Isolation of Leptospira in liquid media was unsuccessful. We found higher antibody prevalence in sea lions from the rookery islands in the gulf than in those from the Pacific Coast. Antibodies against 11 serovars were identified in the Gulf of California population; the most frequent reactions were against serovars Bataviae (90%), Pyrogenes (86%), Wolffi (86%), Celledoni (71%), and Pomona (65%). In the Pacific Ocean population, MAT was positive against eight serovars, where Wolffi (88%), Pomona (75%), and Bataviae (70%) were the most frequent. Serum samples agglutinated with more than one Leptospira serovar. The maximum titer was 3,200. Each island had a different serology profile, and islands combined showed a distinct profile for each region. We detected pathogenic Leptospira DNA in 63% of blood samples, but we found no saprophytic Leptospira. Positive PCR results were obtained in blood samples with high and low MAT titers. Together, these two methods enhance the diagnosis and interpretation of sea lion leptospirosis. Our results may be related to human activities or the presence of other reservoirs with which sea lions interact, and they may also be related to sea lion stranding.

  12. Distribution of Xantus' Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus at sea in the Southern California Bight, 1995-97

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Whitworth, Darrell L.; Takekawa, John Y.; Carter, Harry R.; Newman, Scott H.; Keeney, Thomas W.; Kelly, Paul R.

    2000-01-01

    We radiomarked 153 Xantus' Murrelets Synthliboramphus hypoleucus captured at sea near Santa Barbara Island (SBI), the largest murrelet colony in the California Channel Islands, USA. We tracked these radiomarked murrelets in the Southern California Bight (SCB) off coastal southern California during the 1995-97 breeding seasons. In 1995 during mild El Nino conditions, the murrelets were distributed in non-upwelling areas. In 1996-97, they were distributed in dense patches, aggregating in cool upwelled waters near the northern Channel Islands or south of San Nicolas Island. Murrelets flew longer distances from SBI to foraging areas in 1997 (x?? = 111 ?? 44 km) than in 1996 (x?? = 62 ?? 25 km), but the distances they travelled did not differ between months (Apr and May) within years. Mean foraging distances from SBI were similar for 'incubating' murrelets (determined on the basis of repeated visits to SBI) and 'non-incubating' murrelets during the colony attendance period. We attributed the low return rate of radiomarked murrelets to SBI to the capture and marking of a large proportion of birds that were not actively incubating rather than to any adverse effects of radio attachment. We believe changes in murrelet foraging patterns between the 1970s and 1990s are associated with changes in prey resources in the SCB. Flexibility in the foraging strategies of these murrelets may be related to the highly variable marine environment at the southern end of the California Current Upwelling System.

  13. Underwater psychophysical audiogram of a young male California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Mulsow, Jason; Houser, Dorian S; Finneran, James J

    2012-05-01

    Auditory evoked potential (AEP) data are commonly obtained in air while sea lions are under gas anesthesia; a procedure that precludes the measurement of underwater hearing sensitivity. This is a substantial limitation considering the importance of underwater hearing data in designing criteria aimed at mitigating the effects of anthropogenic noise exposure. To determine if some aspects of underwater hearing sensitivity can be predicted using rapid aerial AEP methods, this study measured underwater psychophysical thresholds for a young male California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) for which previously published aerial AEP thresholds exist. Underwater thresholds were measured in an aboveground pool at frequencies between 1 and 38 kHz. The underwater audiogram was very similar to those previously published for California sea lions, suggesting that the current and previously obtained psychophysical data are representative for this species. The psychophysical and previously measured AEP audiograms were most similar in terms of high-frequency hearing limit (HFHL), although the underwater HFHL was sharper and occurred at a higher frequency. Aerial AEP methods are useful for predicting reductions in the HFHL that are potentially independent of the testing medium, such as those due to age-related sensorineural hearing loss.

  14. Characterization of a degenerative cardiomyopathy associated with domoic acid toxicity in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Zabka, T S; Goldstein, T; Cross, C; Mueller, R W; Kreuder-Johnson, C; Gill, S; Gulland, F M D

    2009-01-01

    Domoic acid, produced by marine algae, can cause acute and chronic neurologic sequela in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) from acute toxicity or sublethal exposure. Eight sea lions, representing acute and chronic cases, both sexes, and all age classes, were selected to demonstrate a concurrent degenerative cardiomyopathy. Critical aspects of characterizing the cardiomyopathy by lesion distribution and morphology were the development of a heart dissection and tissue-trimming protocol and the delineation of the cardiac conducting system by histomorphology and immunohistochemistry for neuron-specific protein gene product 9.5. Histopathologic features and progression of the cardiomyopathy are described, varying from acute to chronic active and mild to severe. The cardiomyopathy is distinguished from other heart lesions in pinnipeds. Based on histopathologic features, immunopositive staining for cleaved caspase-3, and comparison with known, similar-appearing cardiomyopathies, the proposed pathogenesis for the degenerative cardiomyopathy is the primary or at least initial direct interaction of domoic acid with receptors that are suspected to exist in the heart. l-Carnitine, measured in the heart and skeletal muscle, and troponin-I, measured in serum collected at the time of death from additional animals (n = 58), were not predictive of the domoic acid-associated cardiomyopathy. This degenerative cardiomyopathy in California sea lions represents another syndrome beyond central neurologic disease associated with exposure to domoic acid and may contribute to morbidity and mortality.

  15. Pathology of domoic acid toxicity in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Silvagni, P A; Lowenstine, L J; Spraker, T; Lipscomb, T P; Gulland, F M D

    2005-03-01

    Over 100 free-ranging adult California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and one Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), predominantly adult females, were intoxicated by domoic acid (DA) during three harmful algal blooms between 1998 and 2000 in central and northern California coastal waters. The vector prey item was Northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax) and the primary DA-producing algal diatom was Psuedonitzschia australis. Postmortem examination revealed gross and histologic findings that were distinctive and aided in diagnosis. A total of 109 sea lions were examined, dying between 1 day and 10 months after admission to a marine mammal rehabilitation center. Persistent seizures with obtundation were the main clinical findings. Frequent gross findings in animals dying acutely consisted of piriform lobe malacia, myocardial pallor, bronchopneumonia, and complications related to pregnancy. Gross findings in animals dying months after intoxication included bilateral hippocampal atrophy. Histologic observations implicated limbic system seizure injury consistent with excitotoxin exposure. Peracutely, there was microvesicular hydropic degeneration within the neuropil of the hippocampus, amygdala, pyriform lobe, and other limbic structures. Acutely, there was ischemic neuronal necrosis, particularly apparent in the granular cells of the dentate gyrus and the pyramidal cells within the hippocampus cornu ammonis (CA) sectors CA4, CA3, and CA1. Dentate granular cell necrosis has not been reported in human or experimental animal DA toxicity and may be unique to sea lions. Chronically, there was gliosis, mild nonsuppurative inflammation, and loss of laminar organization in affected areas.

  16. Seasonal Dust Emissions Measured from Shorelines at the Salton Sea, Southern California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Etyemezian, V.; Sweeney, M.; Nickling, W.; Gillies, J.; MacDonald, E.

    2006-12-01

    Reallocation of Colorado River water usage in southern California will result in a decline in the level of water in the Salton Sea projected over the next 75 years. High rates of evaporation supplanted by irrigation runoff from the Imperial Valley have resulted in a relatively stable water level in the Salton Sea over the past several years. The potential for lowering of water in the Salton Sea has raised concerns about blowing dust from newly exposed lake beds. The Portable In Situ Wind Erosion Lab (PI-SWERL) was used to measure dust emissions from shoreline locations around the lake. Soils are characterized by high salt contents and resemble mud- cracked and salt crusted playa sediments in most cases. Other types of soils tested include dune areas and dry washes. Dust was measured during three different seasons: late summer, winter, and spring. Emissions in summer and spring were relatively low, reflecting dry, crusted surfaces with little sediment available for entrainment. Emissions were highest in winter, when soil temperatures were cooler and humidity was higher. Salt crusted soils appeared to lose their structure and were composed of easily erodible soft and fluffy sediments. Seasonal climate variability may result in the breakdown of salt mineralogy, resulting in higher dust emissions. This phenomenon has also been documented at other dry lake beds in southern California, most notably at Owens Lake. Overall, shoreline data from the measurements at the Salton Sea suggest lower dust emissions than at Owens Lake. However, lower water levels at the Salton Sea may result in higher dust emissions during winter months if winds are strong enough to generate dust.

  17. Somatosensory brainstem, thalamus, and cortex of the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

    PubMed

    Sawyer, Eva K; Turner, Emily C; Kaas, Jon H

    2016-06-15

    Pinnipeds (sea lions, seals, and walruses) are notable for many reasons, including their ape-sized brains, their adaptation to a coastal niche that combines mastery of the sea with strong ties to land, and the remarkable abilities of their trigeminal whisker system. However, little is known about the central nervous system of pinnipeds. Here we report on the somatosensory areas of the nervous system of the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). Using stains for Nissl, cytochrome oxidase, and vesicular glutamate transporters, we investigated the primary somatosensory areas in the brainstem, thalamus, and cortex in one sea lion pup and the external anatomy of the brain in a second pup. We find that the sea lion's impressive array of whiskers is matched by a large trigeminal representation in the brainstem with well-defined parcellation that resembles the barrelettes found in rodents but scaled upward in size. The dorsal column nuclei are large and distinct. The ventral posterior nucleus of the thalamus has divisions, with a large area for the presumptive head representation. Primary somatosensory cortex is located in the neocortex just anterior to the main vertical fissure, and precisely locating it as we do here is useful for comparing the highly gyrified pinniped cortex with that of other carnivores. To our knowledge this work is the first comprehensive report on the central nervous system areas for any sensory system in a pinniped. The results may be useful both in the veterinary setting and for comparative studies related to brain evolution.

  18. Increase California-Oregon Coastal Summer Sea Level Fog from 1950 to 2007

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dorman, C. E.

    2015-12-01

    An analysis is presented of the marine fog distribution based upon the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) ship observations taken during 1950-2007. Deep fog occurrence is reported in routine weather reports that are encoded in an ICOADS ship observation. Occurrence is estimated by the number of deep fog observations divided by the total present weather observations in a one-degree area centered on latitude and longitude grid point intersections. The mean fog occurrence for the summer (June-July-August) 1950-2007 was computed for each one degree point. There is a long term, deep fog occurrence maximum on the California-Oregon coast with its highest value of 16.6 % at 38° N 123° W. This fog maximum is coincident with coldest June-July-August sea surface temperatures (SST) along the coast. To compute annual averages of the maximum, a block average was based on the 19 over water grid points with the deep fog occurrences generally greater than 0.6 times the highest long term maximum value that extended along the California-Oregon coast from 37° N to 44° N. The June-July-August block averaged, annual value computed for each of the 58 summers for the period 1950-2007 has a distinct positive trend. A line fitted to the data has a deep fog percent occurrence increase of +7.4 % from 1950 through 2007 or a trend of +0.13 % per year. The Mann-Kendall test was applied and the trend is significant at the 0.05 level. The increase in long term coastal fog is coincident with a decrease in the California-Oregon coastal SST. The SST decrease is consistent with interior California land temperatures increasing, increasing the cross shore sea level pressure gradient, and increasing the along coast winds creating a positive feedback that causes more upwelling and lower SST.

  19. Body size changes among otters, Lutra lutra, in Norway: the possible effects of food availability and global warming.

    PubMed

    Yom-Tov, Yoram; Heggberget, Thrine Moen; Wiig, Oystein; Yom-Tov, Shlomith

    2006-11-01

    Using museum data of adult specimens whose sex, age, and locality are known, we studied temporal and geographical body size trends among the otter, Lutra lutra, in Norway. We found that body size of the otters increased during the last quarter of the twentieth century, and suggest that this trend is related to increased food availability from fish farming and possibly also to energy saving due to elevated sea temperatures. Birth year and death year explained 38.8 and 43.5%, respectively, of the variation in body size. Body size of otters was positively related to latitude, thus conforming to Bergmann's rule.

  20. Effects of Age, Colony, and Sex on Mercury Concentrations in California Sea Lions.

    PubMed

    McHuron, Elizabeth A; Peterson, Sarah H; Ackerman, Joshua T; Melin, Sharon R; Harris, Jeffrey D; Costa, Daniel P

    2016-01-01

    We measured total mercury (THg) concentrations in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and examined how concentrations varied with age class, colony, and sex. Because Hg exposure is primarily via diet, we used nitrogen (δ (15)N) and carbon (δ (13)C) stable isotopes to determine if intraspecific differences in THg concentrations could be explained by feeding ecology. Blood and hair were collected from 21 adult females and 57 juveniles from three colonies in central and southern California (San Nicolas, San Miguel, and Año Nuevo Islands). Total Hg concentrations ranged from 0.01 to 0.31 μg g(-1) wet weight (ww) in blood and 0.74 to 21.00 μg g(-1) dry weight (dw) in hair. Adult females had greater mean THg concentrations than juveniles in blood (0.15 vs. 0.03 μg(-1) ww) and hair (10.10 vs. 3.25 μg(-1) dw). Age class differences in THg concentrations did not appear to be driven by trophic level or habitat type because there were no differences in δ (15)N or δ (13)C values between adults and juveniles. Total Hg concentrations in adult females were 54 % (blood) and 24 % (hair) greater in females from San Miguel than females from San Nicolas Island, which may have been because sea lions from the two islands foraged in different areas. For juveniles, we detected some differences in THg concentrations with colony and sex, although these were likely due to sampling effects and not ecological differences. Overall, THg concentrations in California sea lions were within the range documented for other marine mammals and were generally below toxicity benchmarks for fish-eating wildlife.