Sea Otters and the Kelp Forest Ecosystem

Sea otter

Purple Sea Urchin populations have exploded along the northern California coast, creating “urchin barrens” where all the algae has been eaten – including Giant Kelp and Bull Kelp – leading to the loss of most of the vital “kelp forest” habitat. Dr. James Estes, emeritus professor of Ecology at the University of California – Santa Cruz, one of the foremost experts on Sea Otters, explains how the disappearance of these predators a century ago contributed to the loss of kelp forests here and elsewhere.

The situation in one graphic, from the NAS Facebook page :

Dr. Estes is a renowned scientist and his lifetime of research is documented in his book, Serendipity: An Ecologist’s Quest to Understand Nature (University of California Press, 2016). (article about the book) (reviewed in Nature) He and his work also feature prominently in the film The Serengeti Rules, now playing in theaters. Some of his lectures and presentations are on YouTube and a Web search will lead to pages of references, scientific publication, videos, and other information.

About Tim

Host for Oak and Thorn on the first and third Sundays of every month, and The Ecology Hour on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Oak & Thorn aims to present the widest possible spectrum of Celtic music, from traditional to contemporary styles, along with information about history and culture. The Ecology Hour- Science Edition (co-hosted with Bob Spies) presents recent scientific findings about the natural world and our place in it. My other interests include brewing, gardening, birding, cooking, woodworking, and history. I live on Middle Ridge in Albion, California, among wonderful neighbors.
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