Pollutants killing West Coast sea otters

April 6, 2006

Pollutants entering the Pacific Ocean from the U.S. West Coast may be killing hundreds of southern sea otters each year.

Although sea otters normally live for about 15 years, large numbers of dead breeding-age animals have been reported, National Geographic News reported.

Scientists believe the pollutants suppress the sea otters' immune systems, allowing them to become more susceptible to infectious diseases.

Conservationists told NGN the deaths could erase decades of conservation efforts that have helped restore the population to about 2,500.

Sea otters were hunted to the brink of extinction during the 18th and 19th centuries, but they have been protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 1977.

Lillian Carswell, a Santa Cruz, Calif., biologist told NGN scientists have not yet determined the precise reasons for the deaths.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Image: Pluto's blue sky

October 9, 2015

Pluto's haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn's moon ...

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

The universe's most miraculous molecule

October 9, 2015

It's the second most abundant substance in the universe. It dissolves more materials than any other solvent. It stores incredible amounts of energy. Life as we know it would not be possible without it. And although it covers ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.