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Why Are Sea Otters Becoming Shark Bait?

February 18, 2012, 6:24 PM
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There's been an alarming spike in lethal shark attacks on sea otters by sharks off California's Central Coast, and no one seems to know why. While attacks by sharks -- mostly Great Whites -- accounted for approximately 10 percent of sea otter deaths in the 1990s, today that number is 30 percent.

Researchers have based these figures on the number of dead sea otters that wash ashore with shark bites. Sea otters are on the federal endangered species list, and the sharks aren't making the fight against extinction any easier. 

Is this because sharks are changing their hunting behavior or has there been a change in the shark population? The answer has so far eluded scientists. But one thing is for sure: maintaining a stable population of both sharks and sea otters is important for our human environment. As oceanographer Sylvia Earle told Big Think, if sharks are in trouble that means the ocean is in toruble. And that means we're in trouble.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

 

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