NewsLocal News


New study suggests recolonizing San Francisco Bay with sea otters

Posted at 4:33 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 21:42:46-05

Researchers at Cal Poly were part of a recent study that looked at increasing the sea otter population along the California coast.

The main takeaway from the study -- California could more than triple its population of southern sea otters by repopulating the San Francisco Bay.

The study noted a resurgence of sea otters in the Morro Bay and Elkhorn Slough estuaries and suggests that the marine mammals could also thrive in the San Francisco Bay.

Currently, California has a population of about 3,000 southern sea otters. They used to be found in much larger numbers but were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1700s and 1800s.

Southern sea otters are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Researchers believe the San Francisco Bay could support about 6,600 sea otters. However, they believe the animals haven't been able to reestablish residency in the area on their own because of the presence of great white sharks at the entrance to the bay.

Cal Poly researchers worked on the study with their counterparts at Sonoma State University, as well as officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other agencies and universities. Click here to read the full report.