SEA OTTERS - Keystone Species. By: Sunanda Tah. Species Profile. KINGDOM: Animalia PHYLUM: Chordata CLASS: Mammalia ORDER: Carnivora FAMILY: Mustelidae GENUS: Enhydra SPECIES: Lutris. Scientific Name: Enhydra lutris Common Names: Sea Otter Loutre De Mer
By: Sunanda Tah
Loutre De Mer
Nutria Del Kamtchatka
The sea otter’s historic range stretched from Japan, and down along the coast of Siberia. Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California also had many sea otters. Currently sea otters can be found in some parts of California, Alaska, Canada, and Russia.Species Profile
Habitat and Type of System
The current population (from 2010) of sea otters is approximately 2700.
The trend from the past decade is that from 1990,the sea otter population was extremely low, then in 2007, the population, was really high (3000), however from 2008 to 2010, the population gradually decreased to 2700
Some scientists believe that the chemicals weaken sea otters’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to infectious diseasesMajor Threats to Sea Otters
Threat Number 1: Pollution
Threat Number 1: Pollution Continued
Threat Number 2: Toxic Algae Bloom
Threat Number 2: Toxic Algae
Sea otters feed along the shoreline. Species such as clams and mussels are capable of having both biological and chemical pollutants in their digestive tissue.
sea otters are most at risk of blue-green algae poisoning
Scientists are looking for causes of toxic algae growth, so that they can help the sea otters.
Threat Number 3: Interaction with Fishing Gear
Live Fish Trap
Sea otters are not being targeted, but fishing equipment is very harmful to them.
Two major fishing equipment that harm sea otters, are gill nets, and live fish traps
Threat Number 3: Interaction with Fishing Gear- Gill Nets
Gill nets are one of the equipments used to capture fish. They are single walled nets made of nylon
The nets hang like curtains in the water with weights on the bottom and floaters on the top.
Gill Nets Continued
Threat Number 3-Fishing Gear- Live Fish Traps
Live fish traps, catch fish live, they have large openings that lead down to a much smaller chamber, which allow fish to swim in but they can’t swim out.
Sea otters swim into this equipment and become ensnared in these traps, and die or either become really hurt. Many southern sea otters have died this way.
Indication-Where Species from Food Web Fit
The species in the food web can all fit in the phylum of chordata.
Green algae and phytoplankton do not fit in chordata
Phylum for green algae is chlorophyta
Phylum for the phytoplankton in the food web is Haptophyta.
Kingdom for the animals would be Animalia
Kingdom for green algae and phytoplankton would be Protista
Chordata is a phylum that includes familiar species. This phylum even includes humans. In the Chordata phylum, there are three subphylums. All chordates, have the following features during some point in their life. Humans may only show these features in the embryo.
The four features are:
Pharyngeal slits: series of openings connecting the inside of the throat to the outside of the neck.
Dorsal nerve cord: a bundle of nerve fibres which go down all the way to the back. This connects the brain with the lateral muscles and other organs.
Notochord: It is a cartilaginous rod that supports the nerve cord
Post-anal tail- an extension of the body
1) Examples of Species that have Phylum Chordata: Killer Whale
Killer whales are found in oceans, from the Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. They currently are an endangered species. There are five types of killer whales.
Scientific name: Orcinus orca
2) Polar Bear
Polar bears are threatened species, since they are under the vulnerable category. They mainly live in the ice covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic, and their range is limited by the southern extent of sea ice.
Scientific name: Ursus maritimus
3) Snow Leopard
Snow Leopards, are endangered species. They live in the high mountains of central Asia. The main areas where they live are Altai, Tian Shan, Kun Lun, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan ranges.
Scientific name: Panthera uncia
Extinction of Sea Otters
If sea otters become extinct, there will be many consequences such as:
Kelp forests will become endangered, and even destroyed.
Sea otters eat sea urchins and other animals that graze on giant kelp. Without sea otters, grazing animals will destroy the kelp forests and animals that live there.
Marine organisms, that come under sea otters in the food web, will be at risk of dying. Sea otters, keep healthy kelp forests, which support thousands of organisms, if they are destroyed, then many marine organisms will be at risk.
In California, wildlife viewing is one of the most popular activities, and this attracts many tourists and residents. Without sea otters, this attraction will not be valuable anymore
Sea otters are getting many diseases. Since humans and sea otters eat many of the same seafood items, human health might be at risk too. Along with marine ecosystem health
Therefore, if sea otters become extinct human life will be at risk, since there will be many diseases coming from seafood.
Is Biodiversity Important?
Biodiversity is the number of different organisms, living in an area. Biodiversity is everywhere on earth. Greater amounts of biodiversity are better for humans, and animals. For instance, greater biodiversity means that there will be a number of different species, and that will ensure natural sustainability for all life forms. For example, if there are high amounts of biodiversity, there will be more species, and therefore sustainability will not be an issue.
The reason for this is because, there will be more natural resources available, than with lower amounts of biodiversity. Another reason, why biodiversity is important is because with high amounts of biodiversity there will be healthier ecosystems. Also, if there is a lot of biodiversity then ecosystems will be able to recover from many disasters very quickly.
A healthy biodiversity provides many natural services for people. For instance, if the ecosystems are healthy then there will be many advantages such as: climate stability, less pollution, the water will be healthier and soils will be richer with nutrients. The reason why there will be less pollution with high amounts of biodiversity, is because plants absorb greenhouse gases which help decrease global warming.
Therefore, by more plants there will be more greenhouse gases absorbed. Also, if there is a lot biodiversity there will be more to learn from, and there will be more tourism opportunities. The reason why there will be more tourism opportunities is because there will be more animals and plants to look at and discover.
Biodiversity is very important for humans, as well as plants and animals. However, with increased biodiversity, humans will have more medicine. For example, many of the medicinal drugs come from plants therefore, with more plants there will be more medicine produced.
Also, with increased biodiversity, scientists might even be able to come up with new medicinal drugs that might help treat major diseases such as cancer. In conclusion, biodiversity is very important, to all living species on earth.
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