The Academy is home to the world’s largest collection of skulls, skeletons, and other preserved samples of the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). Research collections like ours are valuable resources for scientists studying California marine ecosystems, and informing conservation strategies. Southern sea otters live along the coast of California (mostly between Monterey and Big Sur), and are classified as threatened on the U.S. Endangered Species List.
From September 28 – October 3, 2009, stop by the Research Lab to see select specimens on display. Sea otter-themed books and resources will also be available in the Naturalist Center. For those ages 21 and up, stop by the sea otter table at NightLife on October 1 to talk to biologists about how these creatures are faring in the wild.
Vibrantly colored sea urchins (below, left) are a favorite food source among sea otters, and individuals who eat a lot of them over the course of a lifetime can end up with purple-tinted bones and teeth. Read more about their behaviors in this archive issue of California Wild.