Southern Sea Otters
Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, were listed as threatened in 1977 under the Endangered Species Act. Reduced range and population size, vulnerability to oil spills, and oil spill risk from coastal tanker traffic were the primary reasons for listing. As a consequence of their threatened status, southern sea otters are also recognized as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under state law, southern sea otters are “fully protected” mammals.

Ranging from San Mateo County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south, southern sea otters live in the nearshore waters along the mainland coastline of California. A small population of sea otters lives at San Nicolas Island.

Sea otter counts are conducted annually by the U.S. Geological Survey on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For more information on southern sea otters and our work to conserve them, visit"
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