Annually, throughout the last week of September, we celebrate sea otters during Sea Otter Awareness Week. We encourage zoological and educational institutions, governmental agencies and communities to plan and undertake events that highlight sea otters. These activities include sharing stories, disseminating science and generating media that inspire a deeper awareness of these unique marine mammals, their ecological importance and the many challenges they face.
This year's Sea Otter Awareness Week's theme, Ecosystem Mosaic, follows the idea of the sea otter’s ecosystem as a mosaic of tiny parts in which the removal of key elements or damage to the system’s structure renders the ecological picture incomplete.
Logo design by Heather BarrettThe Ecosystem Mosaic theme was inspired by groundbreaking research published by a collaborative of scientists from University of California Santa Cruz, the Western Ecological Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2021. This large-scale study examined ecosystem complexity revealed by the catastrophic loss of an important kelp forest predator -- the sunflower star. The sudden shift in the web of organisms uncovered new insights into the functional role of sea ottes in California kelp ecosystems. Dr. Joshua Smith, the lead author of this study, will be a featured speaker leading off the week's exciting agenda of events.
A mosaic relies on each piece of tile to contribute to a complete image. Similarly, a thousand tiny elements must coexist to form an ecosystem. Removing pieces from a mosaic equates to losing vital components of an ecosystem. As more parts are removed, the value of the art or the ecosystem diminishes.