Sea Otters can save the world from environmental collapse. All they have to do is what comes naturally — keep eating Sea Urchins. More Otters means less Urchins, and less Urchins means more healthy kelp forests. More healthy kelp forests means less CO2. According to the researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, ‘a thriving Sea Otter population that keeps Sea Urchins in check will in turn allow kelp forests (Kelp forests are underwater areas with a high density of kelp. They are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth) to prosper. The spreading kelp can absorb as much as 12 times the amount of CO2 from the atmosphere than if it were subject to ravenous Sea Urchins. Sea Otters have a positive indirect effect on kelp biomass by preying on Sea Urchins, a kelp grazer.’
Awwww. I was almost kissing a Sea Otter for it could save the world. I was so happy but a man named Ian Chant said, ‘It’s not a ton of help!’
Me: Why not?
Ian Chant: ‘Climate change is exacerbated by greenhouse gas emissions that come from pretty much everything cool that humans do from driving cars to operating power plants to farming cattle!…’
Me: We know it. Don’t we? Tell me what should we do now? Should we give up hope?
Ian Chant: ‘Kelp beds where otters hang out are some of the most efficient CO2 absorbers known to us. But sea urchins love to eat some kelp bed.’
Me: And Sea Otters love to eat sea urchins.
Ian Chant: ‘Yes, but it’s not a ton of help, ultimately, but considering the greenhouse gas emissions mess we’re in — and how much worse it could get — man, we’ll take any help we can get’.
Me: Yes, we should take any help we can get. It makes sense.
But the Sea Otter, a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean is dying. Sea Otters are killed by Sharks. But we should not kill sharks to save Sea Otters. Lots of Sea Otters die because of protozoan parasites, Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona, that are known to breed in cats and opossums. Sea Otters are dying because cat owners flush used litter down the toilet! (Outdoor cat eats rodent or bird infected with Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Parasite develops in cat’s gut and its eggs are released in scat. Eggs travel through runoff or are flushed into sewers. Eggs end up in the ocean and are ingested by mussels, clams and oysters. Otter eats shellfish; eggs infect the otter’s brain and organs and kill it.) Sea Otters are also killed by thorny-headed worms dropped into the ocean by seabirds. And they get killed because of industrial chemicals, algae blooms and other toxins linked to coastal pollution. Toxic algae that blooms triggered by urea, a key ingredient in fertilizer. How does it happen? Again, through shellfish, shellfish eats everything and Sea Otters eat shellfish.
The truth is, we will not able to save Sea Otters from dying because we are unable to stop seabirds from dropping thorny-headed worms into the ocean, to stop shellfish from eating everything whatever they get, to stop sharks from biting Sea Otters and, moreover, we are unable stop ourselves from polluting our oceans.