“Captivating. . . . a full portrait of this adorable and ecologically important animal.” —Publishers Weekly
A science journalist travels the Pacific Coast in search of sea otters in this entertaining and inspiring book on the importance and history of this charismatic endangered species
Sea otters—the adorable, furry marine mammals often seen floating on their backs holding hands—reveal the health of the coastal ecosystem along the Pacific Ocean. Once hunted for their prized fur in the 18th and 19th centuries, these animals nearly went extinct. Only now, nearly a century after hunting ceased, are populations showing stable growth in some places. Sea otters are a keystone species in coastal areas, feeding on sea urchins, clams, crab, and other crustaceans. When they are present, kelp beds are thick and healthy, providing homes for an array of sea life. When otters disappear, sea urchins take over, and the kelp disappears along with all the creatures that live in the beds. Now, thanks to their protected status, sea otters are making a comeback in California, Washington, and Alaska.
In this hopeful book, science writer Todd McLeish embarks on an epic journey along the Pacific Coast—traveling from California to Alaska—to track the status, health, habits, personality, and viability of sea otters, and reveals how conservationists brought them back from the brink of extinction.