"Why The Return Of Sea Otters To Canada’s West Coast Is Making Waves"

"Hunted almost to extinction for their pelts, the voracious mammals are being reintroduced to their traditional haunts in Haida Gwaii, to the consternation of some fishing communities".

"The group of otters floats between amber stalks of kelp, preening their coats and foraging for urchins. Sheltered in a natural bay off Haida Gwaii, one of the most unforgiving coastlines on the west coast of Canada, the skittish mammals are hidden – from the fast-moving currents, and from groups that have pledged to shoot them on sight.

Generations ago, the global frenzy for pelts pushed northern sea otters to extinction in these islands. In recent years, however, a few dozen have returned, travelling up the Pacific coast in search of new food sources. Their location remains a secret amid fears that the fledgling population could be wiped out once more.

To some, their return is a conservation success, and a testament to the resilience of the natural world. Experts hope their presence marks a turning point in the future health of the ecosystem.

But to others they are feared and despised. Some communities worry the creatures’ insatiable appetites could wreak havoc on a fragile marine ecosystem that has adapted to their absence.
Sea urchins in the clear waters of Gwaii Haanas national park reserve in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia."

Leyland Cecco reports for the Guardian with photographs by Cole Burston November 30, 2023.

Source: Guardian, 12/01/2023