Today’s Solutions: January 30, 2023

The San Francisco Bay is home to rolling fog, ferry boats, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Soon, the bay may be home to something new: sea otters. The species, once hunted to near extinction, has now rebounded to 3,000 and conservationists are looking for new habitats to allow the population to expand further. 

Although busy with boats and located near a large city, researchers from San Francisco State University’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center have found that certain pockets of the bay are actually well suited for otters. The researchers mapped out high-risk areas of the bay, like areas with water pollution or frequent boat passage, and after ruling out these spots, the researchers were surprised to find they were left with hundreds of acres of high-quality habitat in areas.

These shallow water marshes are mostly located on the north end of the bay where there are already other protected areas nearby. Areas between parks like China Camp State Park and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge offer little pockets of protection that are well suited to the habitat needs of otters. 

Lead study author Jane Rudebusch is optimistic about the team’s results but notes that this study is just the first step in a long process of creating a viable ecosystem for otters. She says that the next big factor to consider is food. Otters eat up to a quarter of their body weight in food each day and although a separate study found that the bay has enough food to support over 6,000 otters, researchers must ensure that these areas of nutritional abundance line up with the designated habitat areas. 

Another factor to consider is whether the otters will stay in the areas they are introduced to. Migration to less safe areas of the bay could make the reintroduction futile. Additionally, the researchers note that impact assessments on regional commercial fishing would likely be needed to get support from local governments. Many ecologists propose starting with small-scale reintroduction in controlled areas of the bay to gain insights into what a larger population would look like in the region. 

Although this research is in its early stages, the potential reintroduction of sea otters into the San Francisco Bay is an exciting prospect for local conservationists and the future of the species. We will continue to follow this story closely and provide updates on the project.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Avatar’s motion AI tech helps researchers detect rare diseases

Researchers are using motion capture artificial intelligence technology that brings characters to life in films like Avatar to track the onset of diseases that ...

Read More

The top 9 mistakes people make when trying to establish a healthy routine

If you can’t figure out why you struggle to maintain a healthy routine, no worries. We have a story from Groom+Style that lists the ...

Read More

World’s largest wealth fund drops fossil fuel investments

The world’s biggest wealth fund was built on Norway’s oil and gas production revenue. Now, the fund is shifting course and taking a stand ...

Read More

Listen to this fascinating piece of ambient music composed by stars

Though we can’t hear them, stars propagate some incredibly soothing soundscapes through the vacuum of space. And for the first time, music composed from ...

Read More