Hopkins Marine Station Student Paper

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(full paper is archived in the Miller Library)

Title: The population status of the California sea otter as indicated by prey selection and activity time budgets
Student Author(s): Karrman, Margit J.
Faculty Advisor(s): Estes, James
Pearse, John
Pages: 31
Location: Senior Thesis UC Santa Cruz
Keywords: Enhydra lutris
Abstract: Two sites along the central California coast were selected as study areas to determine the population status of the Califonria sea otter. Daily activity time budgets of the sea otter were gathered at Big Creek, Big Sur and Piedras Blancas near San Simeon over a 3 month period. Feeding data was collected over a two week period only at Big Creek. It was found that there were no significant differences in activity time budgets between the two study areas, nor any significant differences when compared to other areasof California. It was concluded that based on activity time budgets the populations status of the California sea otter seemed uniform over the entire range. The feeding data indicated that even though otters at Big Creek were feeding mainly on turban snails and kelp crabs, abalones were also occuring frequently in the diet. Dirunal feeding patterns were observed at both study areas.
Based soley on a comparison of Alaskan acivity time budgets to California, the data seem to indicate that the California population had not yet reached carrying capactity. Due to conflictiong data, though, of activity time budgets, food selection, population growth and survival rates and availability of potential habitat, the question of whether the California sea otter population has reached carrying capacity still remained uncertain.