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Sea Otters: A Natural History

Photo: Erin Rechsteiner
Photo: Graeme Ellis

Live-streamed On Thursday, October 16, 2014

Join the Vancouver Aquarium for an insightful presentation on the natural history of sea otters.  Sea otters were prized for their thick fur and hunted to extinction in British Columbia in a commercial fur trade that lasted from the late 1700s until 1911. They were reintroduced to B.C. from 1969 to 1972 when 89 Alaskan sea otters were released off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Since their “repatriation”, the Canadian sea otter population has grown and spread to over 5,000 along the outer coast and north end of Vancouver Island and off B.C.’s central coast.

The return of sea otters, which has resulted in dramatic changes to coastal ecosystems, has not been without controversy. Sea otters depend on a thick fur and a prodigious appetite to stay warm in their chilly ocean environment and it is these two features - their luxurious fur coats and enormous appetites - that have made sea otters both loved and hated. In this event, the biology and ecology of this important and charismatic species will be presented – in what is truly a very natural history.

Dr. Jane Watson is a research associate at the Vancouver Aquarium, is an adjunct professor with the Marine Mammal Unit at UBC and teaches biology at Vancouver Island University.  She has spent the last 25 years studying sea otters and kelp on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  She completed her B.Sc. at the University of British Columbia in 1981 and her Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1993. She grew up on the BC coast, and knew from a very early age that she wanted to be marine biologist. 

Vancouver Aquarium public programs provide family-friendly opportunities for people to connect with each other through hands-on activities, lectures, films, classes and field trips—all focused on aquatic conservation. 


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