Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are great white sharks killing off California sea otters? Scientists blame attacks for steep drop in population

They’ve had to survive famine, disease, and clashes with boats.

But shark attacks may be to blame for the significant decline in sea otter populations around the California coast.

Scientists are mystified at the recent number – up to 30 per cent of dead otters found along the coast have shark bites, up from ten per cent in the mid-1990s.

Mercury News reports that in 2011, 70 sea otters washed up on shore, showing tell-tale signs of a shark attack.

Some otter carcases even had shark teeth embedded in their skin.

Tim Tinker, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological survey told the website that one popular theory is that sharks are mistaking otters as sea lions and elephant seals – their primary prey. Read More