Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The possibility of oil spills from coastal tanker traffic is a primary threat. Accidental drowning in gill and trammel nets remains a risk only in the Purisima Point area. There is also concern about diseases and contamination.
Restrictions on gill and trammel net fishing within the southern sea otter's range have increased its numbers to approximately 2,100. The translocation program also has enhanced the population. The translocated colony at San Nicolas Island is not showing the growth originally anticipated, and numbers appear to be declining still. However, a positive side effect is the establishment of a group of breeding females (primarily translocated to San Nicolas Island) at Purisima Point in Santa Barbara County, which significantly increases the breeding range of the mainland population. Without translocation, female otters likely would not have reoccupied this area for 15 to 20 years.
Recovery needs include continued population monitoring, research to determine factors influencing the low population growth rate, efforts to increase population size and distribution, and development of controls to minimize oil spill risks.
California Department of Fish and Game: In 1987, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department signed a cooperative agreement for the translocation of sea otters to San Nicolas Island and the maintenance of an otter-free area (i.e., the containment program). The Department also helps survey the population and assess sea otter mortality.
Original plan approved 2/3/82; revised 12/26/85.