Once hunted nearly to extinction for their pelts, sea otters have made a strong comeback in Clayoquot Sound, rebounding to the point that First Nations fisheries are unable to sustain sea urchin (tuutsup) harvests.
They are much larger than they appear in the water, and it is only when you are able to see one rather close up, that you really appreciate their full body length and girth! Males can grow up to 1.5 meters long!
I always feel extremely lucky when I see otters … even though they are common here, I grew up in a society and area where we were repeatedly told that they are endangered, and there were hardly any left. That’s certainly true in some areas where they used to be more abundant before the fur trade, but in Clayoquot Sound it is not uncommon to see rafts (groups) of 100 or more!
That’s not to say we shouldn’t protect them – All wildlife deserves our protection! Sea otters are especially valuable because they are a keystone species and the ecosystem’s balance rests on their presence – as long as their numbers are kept in check.
One way or another, I am looking forward to my next sighting – particularly if its on a calm summer morning with a rising sun and glassy water!