Environment

Say “No” to Straws!

Protect Our Oceans

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In California’s supermarkets the phrase “Paper or plastic?” has given way to “Do you have your own bags?” That’s because in the November elections people voted to Ban the Bag and Say “No” to single-use plastic bags that are polluting the environment.

Now, the next single-use item on the “Say No” list of polluters is straws. Like plastic bags, straws often end up as trash in our streets, parks and beaches and ultimately waterways and oceans.

More than a colorful nuisance, straws can be deadly to sealife and birds when they ingest them. And, once the straws reach the sea they stay there forever.

This is a real problem…especially since Americans use some 500 million straws a day. That’s enough straws to fill 46,400 school buses a year!

Surfrider Foundation Huntington/Seal Beach members Alex and Norma Sellers know all about the damage straws do to the environment. This is just one of the wheel barrows they have filled with straws collected on beach cleanups.

To help get straws off the beach, start at the source. The next time the restaurant server brings you a straw, just say “No straw, please.”

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Sea Otters Need Your Help At Tax Time!

Don’t Forget Otterly Amazing Otters!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Who could say “No” to a face like that?

California’s iconic sea otters were almost pushed to the brink of extinction by hunting and environmental changes. But, with the help of tax donations from people like all of us, the otters are still here.

Dana Michaels, with the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, told SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel that there’s more work to do to ensure the otters’ safety.

“Even though the otter population around Morro Bay has been expanding, the overall population is still at risk,” Michaels explained. “Also, the otters’ range hasn’t grown as much as we would like to see.”

You can help protect the otters by making a voluntary donation to the California Sea Otter Fund.

It’s easy! When you send in your California state income tax form, just check off Line 410.

Say “Yes” to the otters!

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Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

What do you do on a cold winter day when you’re not surfing?  Head for the snow!

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People aren’t the only ones who like to act squirrely and horse around in the snow.

These doggies are having a doggone time. Even the kitties think it’s a purrfect snow day.

Let it snow! Let it snow!

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Polar Bear Love

polar-bears

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

Now that the holidays are here it’s important to remember the words in this Jackie DeShannon song and that the best gifts of all are love and friendship…even in the animal kingdom.

sopa-de-letras-animales

monkeys-friend

giraffe-kissing-ostrich

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel’s friend Hilda Roberts sent us this video that’s been getting views around the world. Taken by some tourists in Canada, it shows that even “polar opposites” can be friends.

animal-book-cover

National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer S. Holland discovered this firsthand in researching her bestselling book Unlikely Friendships.

She found that the animals she wrote about had nothing in common except their bonds of friendship, proving that you don’t have to be the same species to be BFFs.

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dog-and-doe

monkey-and-cat

cat-duckling

You never know who’s out there wanting to be your friend.

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SurfWriter Girls wish you much to be thankful for: Peace on Earth, good will toward men…and animals.

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Great Blue Herons Nest In Huntington Beach

Colorful Birds Are A Sight To See!

blue heron with fish

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Huntington Beach’s Sunset Aquatic Park recently welcomed some new residents – several families of Great Blue Herons. The majestic seabirds with colorful, blue plumage put on a dazzling show as the new chicks were born and took to the skies.

Ardea_herodias_at_the_nest

Great_blue_heron flying

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel think it’s a gift of nature to be able to see these magnificent birds right here in Orange County.

Birdsam1WebIn describing the Great Blue Heron, which he painted in 1821, John James Audubon said, “Their contours and movements are always graceful. The tread of the tall bird, no one hears, so carefully does he place his foot on the moist ground. Satisfied that no danger is near, he lays his head on his shoulders, allows the feathers of his breast to droop, and patiently awaits the approach of his finned prey.”

The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American heron and has a wing span of 65 – 70 inches and a height of up to 4 ½ feet tall.

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini) lands on a bed of Pacific Oysters with its wings spread. Hood Canal of Puget Sound, Washington, USA

You can see these amazing birds for yourself at Sunset Beach or nearby Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

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Inky the Octopus Houdini

Escapes from New Zealand Aquarium

Inky the octopus

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Now you see him, now you don’t. Such is the story of master escape artist Inky, the octopus who formerly resided at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

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Aquarium manager Rob Yarrall informed the media that Inky recently made a daring bid for freedom in the middle of the night after the lid on his tank was left slightly open.

“He found this rather tempting, climbed out and managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went.”

Inky, who is about the size of a soccer ball, managed to climb out of the tank, slither across the floor and escape down a 6-inch diameter, 164-foot-long drain pipe that led to the sea…disappearing into the waters of Hawke’s Bay.

Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus, said he wasn’t surprised to hear about the escape. He noted that octopuses “can squeeze through the tiniest spaces and easily. A 100-pound octopus can squeeze through an opening the size of an orange.”

Now Inky – whereabouts unknown – is livin’ the dream.

Hawke's Bay

cartoon octopus

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Remember Sea Otters at Tax Time

Your Donation Makes an Otterly Amazing Difference!

Otter twosome

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

California’s beloved sea otters, once pushed to the brink of extinction by hunting and environmental changes, are still here thanks to tax donations and the work of wildlife specialists and volunteers who care about the otters’ future.

otters hanging out

Proof that everyone’s efforts to support the otters are making a difference came on March 8, 2016, when a wild sea otter seeking shelter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s tide pool gave birth to a pup as happy Aquarium staff and visitors looked on.

mom and tide pool

mom and pup swimming

Mother and child

You can ensure that more events like this take place by making a voluntary donation to the California Sea Otter Fund. It’s easy! When you send in your tax form, just check off Line 410,

sea otter tax message

You will be in good company, including: Friends of the Sea Otter, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Coastal Conservancy, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Defenders of Wildlife, and more. So, get on board and turn a taxing time into a celebration of life!

The otters will thank you!

otter says thanks

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Whale of a Baby Boom!

Baby Orcas Bring Joy to Puget Sound

orca mother and child

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Make way for baby! Puget Sound, Washington, experienced a whale of a baby boom in 2015. New arrivals to the area’s three orca pods came at the end of October bringing the new total to six… and counting. By January 2016 the total was nine.

“It’s fantastic, it’s great news. We’ve got a bit of a Brady Bunch out there right now,” said Michael Harris, Executive Director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

The new calves have quickly become the center of attention swimming alongside their mothers near the San Juan Islands.

Two whales swimming

With American Pacific Northwest Orcas on the endangered species list, there is much jubilation in Washington and Canada over their recent increase in numbers.

whales jumping

Orcas, also known as Killer Whales, are apex predators at the top of the marine sea life environment and are highly intelligent with good hunting skills. The males can grow up to 10 meters long and have a dorsal tail up to two meters in height. Typically, orcas travel in pods (family groups) and communicate via a common dialect.

Male orca

whale tale

With the latest bundle of joys, the total number of orcas in Puget Sound is now 85.

Orca Pod J

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Friends of the Sea

fish undersea

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Friends of the sea,

like you and me,

love to watch the tide,

grab a board and catch a ride.

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ocean tide at sunset

Friends of the sea

live sustainably,

sharing the ocean

with all the fish in motion

Ocean Park wiki

Friends of the sea

keep the beach trash-free,

enjoying the surf and sand

made by Mother Nature’s hand.

white beaches luzon cove

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Leave California Pond Turtles Alone

turtle closeup

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking everyone to leave the Western Pond Turtles alone.

turtles on log

Western pond turtle

According to the CDFW, many kind-hearted people are unnecessarily “rescuing” the turtles when they see them out of the water and trying to put them back in a pond. A turtle in transit is not necessarily  lost or distressed. It’s normal for turtles to travel away from water at times to go to another habitat or to lay their eggs.  So, it’s best not to disturb them.

pond turtle land

When you see a turtle on the move, remember this SurfWriter Girls poem:

Turtles On the Go

Did you know

turtles are often on the go?

Walking slow or in a race,

they like to roam from place-to-place.

So, don’t move them at any cost.

They’re simply traveling; they’re not lost.

Don’t worry, when turtles want to get back in the water, they will by themselves…and maybe even make a big splash!

pool turtles

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Support California’s Sea Otters!

seaotters2

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Just seeing the sea otters playing with delight in the ocean and diving for abalone and mussels will put a smile on your face.

couple otter2

Happy as they appear, though, the otters need your help to combat the perils of today’s environment — pollution, oil spills, disease, and more.

OtterMomPup

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund will help scientists learn about the causes of sea otter mortality, examine the factors that limit the otters’ population growth, and reduce pollution in California’s marine ecosystem.

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Seaotters

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about the sea otters and how to make a donation, visit their Facebook page.

sea otter faceboook

Donations, which are tax-deductible, are much needed. An easy way to donate to the otters is when you fill out your California tax form… simply by making a voluntary contribution to the California Sea Otter Fund on Line 410.

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Drought Strains California’s Water Supply

Our Water Glass is Half Empty

CA glass

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Even with the recent rains California is still in a drought mode with water in short supply throughout the state and many taps running dry.

water shutoff

As California deals with its worst drought in the last fifteen years, SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel believe that it’s important to remember the lessons learned during the 1930s when severe drought in the country’s heartland turned farmlands into a Dust Bowl.

dust-bowl-1

For eight years the dust blew on the southern plains. It came in a yellowish-brown haze from the South and in rolling walls of black from the North. The simplest acts of life – breathing, eating a meal, taking a walk – were no longer simple. Children wore dust masks to and from school, women hung wet sheets over the windows in a futile attempt to stop the dirt, farmers watched helplessly as their crops blew away. – 1930s description of the Dust Bowl

Dust_Bowl_-_Dallas,_South_Dakota_1936

According to Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, California’s current drought is estimated to cost close to $7.5 billion – in crop losses and job losses…with some 800,000 acres of farmland lying fallow. “If the intensity of the drought remains prolonged, the economic cost will surely grow,” Wade emphasizes.

agri_majorareas_dryland_problemsofcropproduction

2013 was the driest year on record and on January 17, 2014, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency, asking Californians to reduce their water usage by 20%.

California stamp

faucet

California isn’t the only state that has been hit hard by drought. SurfWriter Girls learned that other western states, including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon, have all experienced droughts in the past two years. In some communities there is a real risk of running out of drinking water.

 

 

Water is in short supply across California – from its farms to the cities and suburbs. Due to lack of rain and increased usage levels our rivers and lakes are shrinking.

Drought-image-2

The American Rivers environmental organization released a report in April, calling central California’s San Joaquin River “the nation’s most endangered river.” The report added that it is “so over-tapped that it runs completely dry in stretches, threatening water quality, endangering fish and wildlife, creating uncertainty for farmers and leaving communities vulnerable in the face of more frequent and severe droughts.”

Row boat drought

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“California is running out of options to deal with the fact that it has basically been relying on more water than it has long-term access to,” says former U.S. Interior Department official David Hayes.

Water and climate expert Peter Gleick agrees that California has been living beyond its water means. “We’ve been over-drafting groundwater for years,” he says, pointing out, “We’ve given away more water than nature provides.”

First Phase Digital

And the government is still giving water away. The Wall Street Journal reported that this spring the Bureau of Reclamation drained reservoirs on California’s American and Stanislaus rivers of more than 23 billion gallons of water – in order to lower river water temperatures – to make it more comfortable for baby salmon to swim to the sea!

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O'Shaughnessy_Dam

Compounding the problem, according to Stephanie Pinceti, the director of UCLA’s California Center for Sustainable Communities, is that no one knows where the water goes. “We really don’t know how much water is used by whom in the state.”

This is because California’s water districts don’t always share information with each other and in many parts of the state water customers don’t even have water meters on their properties to calculate their water usage.

Water-Meter

The bottom line is that it’s long past time to start conserving water and giving up our wasteful ways.

Drought Sign freeway

Farmers need to practice environmentally responsible agriculture techniques and improve their irrigation methods so that water is directed where it is needed.

irrigation ditch

 

 

Among the things we all can do to improve the drought situation are to reduce water usage and repair leaky faucets and sprinklers.

IndoorWaterUsageReplacing inefficient toilets, dishwashers and washing machines with ones that utilize water better will make a big difference, too.

And, as SurfWriter Girls have pointed out before, we can give up our thirsty lawns for sustainable Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFGs) that use minimal levels of water and pesticides. This will help preserve our water supply and keep our oceans and beaches free from toxic water run-off.

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The non-profit Surfrider Foundation can show you how to convert your lawn into an OFG that’s beautiful to look at and good for the environment.

 

What’s more, the Municipal Water District of Orange County’s Turf Removal Program will even pay you to take out the grass.

Turf-Removal

To keep our Golden State golden, we all need to safeguard its water resources.

By means of water, we give life to everything. – the Koran

cat-drinking-water-high-res

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It’s Invasive Species Action Week!

Help Protect California’s Wildlife

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

Invasive species

Dana Michaels, SurfWriter Girls’ contact at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), wants everyone to know that it’s California Invasive Species Action Week (August 2-10). Michaels said that it’s important to make sure that we’re not introducing non-native animals and plants into the environment. The intruders reproduce and spread, harming the environment, economy, and even human health.

wildlife fish game logo

People moving back and forth between natural areas, farms and waterways can unintentionally spread invasive species on their vehicles, boats, equipment and clothing. Quagga and Zebra mussels, Red Swamp crayfish, and New Zealand mud snails are just a few of the hitchhikers who have invaded our space. Plants to watch out for include: Star thistle, Scotch Broom and pampas grass.

Zebra Mussel Not Wanted Poster200x259

So, next time you’re returning from the beach, mountains or countryside, be sure to check your car, boat, board, clothing and gear to eliminate any unwanted guests. You never know what you might find…

Vampire-queen

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Environmentalists Protect Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Birds Flock to Huntington Beach Safe Haven

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

Waders_in_flight_Roebuck_Bay

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Now that summer’s here and surfers and sun worshipers are heading to Surf City to enjoy the beach vibe, migrating birds are coming, too – from their winter homes in the southern region to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

DSC01746

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach – designated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a protected coastal wetland – is a local treasure.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel talked to Joe Shaw, President of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and Huntington Beach’s Mayor Pro Tem, about the importance of maintaining Bolsa Chica in its natural state…something that can be challenging in an era of beachside property development.

S P.Joe Shaw

“The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is pleased that the Ridge Project – a proposal to build 22 houses on the Bolsa Chica Mesa – was withdrawn,” Shaw said.

More than a place of natural beauty, Bolsa Chica, which means “little pocket” in Spanish, is a sanctuary for migrating birds and provides a tranquil habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife.

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Among the birds and various wildlife seeking shelter in Bolsa Chica are the snowy plover, savannah sparrow, least tern, Caspian tern, great blue heron, snowy egret, red-tailed hawk, and great horned owl, along with cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, coyotes and other animals.

Reddish Egret

red tailed hawk

In the wetlands birds can rest on their long journeys and also have a safe place to breed, nest, and rear their young.

burrowing owl

bird feeding bird.nest cam

Without these pit stops along the way, migrating birds become exhausted and disoriented, unable to reach their destinations and even dying for lack of food, water and shelter.

bolsaChicaReserve from sea

An oasis of primitive beauty in an urban setting, the 1,700-acre Bolsa Chica preserve wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for the efforts of community volunteers and environmental groups, none more supportive than the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.

BC land trust emblem

For over 20 years the Land Trust has been working to protect all of Bolsa Chica’s mesas and wetlands.

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“Our mission is the preservation of the entire eco-system,” Kim Kolpin, Executive Director of the Land Trust, told SurfWriter Girls.

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In 1997 the Land Trust was instrumental in saving 921 acres of wetlands.

Since 2004 the Land Trust has been involved in the ongoing process of restoring the wetlands.

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Joe Shaw explained to SurfWriter Girls, “We are doing probably the most important work now…fighting for the last two jewels of undeveloped land at Bolsa Chica.”

Through its Bolsa Chica Legacy Campaign, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust is working to save from development the wetlands’ Sacred Cogged Stone Site, an area that was once a village and a cemetery of an ancient civilization.

Cogstones

“We are working diligently with a number of sources including the City of Huntington Beach to acquire the land and save it in perpetuity for the people of Huntington Beach and Southern California,” Shaw stated.

Important for more than its ecological aspects, Bolsa Chica is thought to have major archaeological significance. Its cogged stones – over 500 of them – are a mystery that could be linked to similar sites discovered in Chile over 9,000 years ago.

DSC01760

Researchers are eager to discover the true meaning of these cogged stones and what they represented to the early cultures that created them. Some researchers have speculated that the stones served a utilitarian purpose, while others think that they probably were used in religious ceremonies.

cogstones group

Archaeologist Brian Fagan says of the site: “What is preserved here is a unique record of low-key adaptations to a challenging, ever-changing coastal world over 9,000 years.” In Fagan’s view, “This record is just as much a part of the common cultural heritage of humankind as the Pantheon or the first Chinese emperor’s terracotta regiment – and to California just as important.”

Fagan book

By saving the undeveloped parcels in Bolsa Chica, we and future generations will be able to learn more about the stones and to preserve this connection with our past. “This 9000 year-old sacred site can teach us a lot about how the Native Americans lived in harmony at the wetlands,” Shaw said.

To understand what makes these wetlands so special, you really have to see them for yourself.

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For an even closer view, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust installed a Nest Cam that provides a 24/7 live stream video of the remote nesting areas of two of the endangered bird species on the site – the California least tern and the western snowy plover.

Nest cam

To the casual observer Bolsa Chica’s raw landscape, dotted with scrub brush and wildflowers, might not seem important, especially when compared to million dollar homes and luxury resorts. But, to migrating birds it’s a lifeline on their journeys home.

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Huntington Beach City Council Member Connie Boardman knows how important this is. In addition to serving on the Land Trust, she is a biology professor at Cerritos College and brings a scientist’s eye to the wetlands. Viewing them as an essential part of our natural environment, she explains this to the students in her classes.

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Through the Land Trust’s Bolsa Chica Stewards and Junior Stewards programs volunteers can get involved in helping to educate the public about the need to protect this vital coastal land.

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On a bright Saturday morning SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti talked to volunteers who were working to restore the wetlands – removing invasive plants and planting drought-tolerant, native vegetation.

bolsaChicaReserve restoration

Jeff Rokos, who has been a Steward for 16 years, likes volunteering because it “gives me a chance to get my hands in the dirt and help out.”

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Everyone was excited about being able to safeguard this unspoiled stretch of land and maintain a key link in the birds’ migration route.

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A long-time sponsor of the non-profit Surfrider Foundation, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust shares its mission of protecting our oceans, waves and beaches –

SRF and BC St. Beach

whether it’s a top surfing spot…or a “little pocket” where birds can rest.

burrowing owl in home

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2 thoughts on “Environment

  1. Thanks a million, Patti and Sunny! California’s sea otter population is still only a fraction of historical numbers. Voluntary contributions to the Sea Otter Fund support CDFW’s studies of otter mortality, and have led to some surprising findings. So thank you — and any of your readers who have contributed — for helping this threatened species.

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