Officials Identify Troubling Trends in Sea-Otter Deaths

A new analysis finds that adult sea otters in California in 1998-2001 died in unusually high numbers from newly recognized diseases and in geographic clusters — all of which suggest that their coastal environment may be so substantially altered that the species could be in jeopardy. The findings are particularly worrisome in the wake of last week’s report that a startling 100 southern sea otters have washed up dead on California beaches since January — 100 deaths in a population that has been falling overall since 1995 and now stands at about 2,000.