Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Otters saving the California marsh

%E2%80%9CCribs%2C%E2%80%9D+containers+made+from+plywood%2C+hold+the+trees+away+from+the+shoreline+to+break+the+incoming+waves+near+Lafitte%2C+Louisiana.+Sea+otters+returning+to+the+marshlands+of+California+has+slowed+the+rate+of+erosion.
Maroon Archive Photo
“Cribs,” containers made from plywood, hold the trees away from the shoreline to break the incoming waves near Lafitte, Louisiana. Sea otters returning to the marshlands of California has slowed the rate of erosion.

The return of sea otters and their voracious appetites has helped rescue a section of California marshland, a new study shows.

Sea otters eat constantly and one of their favorite snacks is the striped shore crab. These crabs dig burrows and also nibble away roots of the marsh grass pickleweed that holds dirt in place, causing marsh banks to collapse when big waves or storms hit.

Researchers found that the return of the crab-eating sea otters to a tidal estuary near Monterey, California, helped curb erosion.

The 19th century fur trade decimated the otters population which once stretched from Alaska to California, as well as into Russia and Japan. At one point, as few as 2,000 remained.

For the new study, researchers analyzed historic erosion rates dating back to the 1930s to assess the impact of sea otters’ return. They also set up fenced areas to keep otters away from some creek sections for three years — those creek banks eroded much faster.

The latest research left no doubt as to the sea otters’ impact, said Johan Eklöf, a Stockholm University marine biologist who was not involved in the new study.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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Eloise Pickering, Worldview Editor
Eloise Pickering is a current freshman and the Worldview editor. She is a mass communication major, and her favorite movie is Spotlight. When not doing homework or working at the Maroon, Eloise can often be found pondering philosophically in Audubon Park. She has often been dubbed “The Thinker.” Eloise can be reached at [email protected].

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