ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Marine biologists are in Alaska this week to start a joint U.S.-Canadian project to study sea otters and investigate the ecological health of the Pacific coast as part of a U.S. Geological Survey study.
Sixteen research teams will sail between Juneau and Ketchikan, taking blood tests, observing sea otter feeding behavior and collecting samples of fish.
The question is why sea otter populations aren’t producing like they did in the past.
“Really what we're trying to get at here is kind of a better understanding of the health of near shore system that lies adjacent to human populations,” said Jim Bodkin with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Scientist say the populations used to produce about 25 percent per year, but that's dropped to between 0 and 10 percent.