7-10-14 Stranded sea otter - McDonald Spit, Alaska, USA
Observation: A dead sea otter washed up on the beach at high tide. We are concerned about the health of marine mammals and interested in them as indicators for ocean health in general. Mike Brubaker, ANTHC, Center for Climate and Health
Kasitna Bay Laboratory Consult: This post has been forwarded to Kris Holderied, NOAA, Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, NURP Research for further examination.
LEO says: The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coast of the northern and eastern North Pacific ocean. The offshore environment is where sea otters inhabit, they dive to the sea floor to forage on marine invertebrates, such as sea urchins, various mollusks and crustaceans.
2015-12-28 UPDATE: Bacterial infection to blame in Kachemak otter die-off - Daysha Eaton, KBBI - Homer - Tests results are back on dead sea otters from Kachemak Bay. About 82 percent of them had streptococcus syndrome, according to biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Since summer, more than 300 otters have died around Kachemak Bay. Joel Garlich-Miller, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Marine Mammals Management office in Anchorage, says they’re still finding them.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been tracking a streptococcus illness in Kachemak Bay area otters for some time. Otters with the illness usually appear sickly and emaciated. But many of the otters that have died since August appear healthier.
Biologists hope those studies will shed more light on whether viruses had anything to do with the huge number of sea otter deaths this year. Complete story at APM.
Dead or dying sea otters and other marine mammals should be reported to the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network hotline at 888-774-SEAL (7325).
Photos (2) by Mike Brubaker | To view larger images go to the LEO Network Flickr page.