In order to investigate the effect of marine recreation and other human activities on sea otters, as well monitor changes in disturbance levels as our outreach measures unfold, Sea Otter Savvy has implemented a research program in collaboration with scientists and students from the Southern Sea Otter Research Alliance. Our method of data collection will include a randomized approach in which sea otter behavior and activity, and the number, type, and proximity of a range of factors that may trigger behavior change, are recorded year round and contrasted between sites of predicted high and lower levels of disturbance.
Sea Otter Savvy’s research program has three primary goals:
- Increase scientific understanding of the impacts of human-caused disturbance to sea otters.
Investigate hidden costs of human-caused disturbance to sea otters, including energetic costs, stress, habituation and exacerbation of other environmental threats.
Investigate correlations between human-caused disturbance to sea otters and variable stimuli characteristics, including presence/absence of guides, presence/absence of cameras, and launch rates (i.e., as a measure of crowdedness).
Establish a long-term, student-based sea otter foraging ecology project in Morro Bay in partnership with California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly).
- Investigate long-term spatial and temporal trends in frequency and severity of human-caused disturbance to sea otters on the CA central coast.
Optimize targeted outreach by location and season.
Evaluate the efficacy of outreach measures.
- Share the results of research under items 1 and 2 state and federal with managers tasked with sea otter protection.
Join the Sea Otter Savvy Community Science Team! Volunteers and interns are responsible for collecting the majority of our data on the relationship between sea otter activity and marine recreation at our “Disturbance Hot Spots”. Volunteers with the Sea Otter Savvy team monitor how sea otters respond to the presence of an array of potential sources of disturbance, and share information about sea otters and respectful sea otter viewing with the public. Participate in the important research that provides the foundation for the work we do: join our community science team!