Sea Otter Symposium

October 6, 2020 - 1:00 PM
Elakha Alliance, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society


Sea otter and kelp.\Photo by Joe Platko.

The Elakha Alliance, together with the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society, has announced “Sea Otters & Oregon’s Kelp Ecosystem,” a symposium devoted to sharing knowledge about sea otters.  The symposium take place online over three days, Oct. 6-8, beginning at 1 p.m. each day.

The Elakha Alliance, of which Oregon Shores is a founding member, was created to explore the possibility of restoring sea otters, long since extinct in the state, to Oregon’s coastal ecosystems.  According to the organizers, “The purpose of this symposium is to better understand the unique challenges facing the kelp ecosystem, and explore the ecological, social, and economic implications of a possible return of sea otters to the Oregon coast.”

To register for the symposium, go here.

Over several days, this symposium will offer three on-line sessions, seven total presentations, with opportunities for audience question and discussion. Presentations will explore current scientific understanding of key issues that are central to future decisions about restoration.
Emerging science is pointing to dramatic ecological shifts within Oregon’s kelp ecosystem – including a dramatic increase in purple sea urchin barrens, the collapse of a primary urchin predator, and ocean warming trends. The restoration of sea otter populations to parts of their historical range in Oregon may be one key conservation tool available to stabilize this important ecosystem. However, the prospect of restoring sea otters raises important ecological and economic considerations to be explored in this symposium.

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Jim Estes, a professor emeritus from the University of California at Santa Cruz and retired ecologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. His presentation’s title: Sea Otters, Restoring Ecological Resilience.

The remainder of the schedule for Tuesday, Oct. 6:

1 p.m.: Scott Groth:  Urchin barrens and kelp in Oregon
1:45 p.m.: Sara Hamilton:  Conservation status of Pycnopodia (sunflower sea stars)
2:30 p.m.:  Josh Smith: Patchiness in kelp and urchin barrens

See separate listings for the schedules of the other symposium days.