Vancouver Aquarium: Sea Otter Encounter - See 8,446 traveler reviews, 5,216 candid photos, and great deals for Vancouver, Canada, at Tripadvisor. When sea otters return, their insatiable appetite creates a conflict with the people who have an economic and cultural interest in shellfish. Kelp forests provide cover and food for many invertebrates and fish, help reduce coastal erosion and capture carbon. Martone showed that the potential revenue to tourism operators would change by several million dollars based on changes in sea otter abundance. “The jury is still out as what the seaotter’s engineering impacts are going to be on seagrass beds,” says Margot Hessing-Lewis, a marine ecologist at Hakai Institute who studies interactions between sea otters and the linkages between nearshore habitats such as seagrass beds and kelp forests. Sea urchins are normally too large and too deep for the harlequin ducks to get themselves, but when the sea otters crack open the urchins at the surface, the ducks enjoy the urchin scraps in the otters’ wake. Increasingly, the recovery of sea otters can attract tourist dollars. Since then, otters have made a remarkable comeback. Sea otters inhabit the Goose Islands, off the central coast of BC, and the isolated areas of the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, mainly the area of the Brooks Peninsula (Brooks Peninsula / Muquin Provincial Park) and adjacent Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve, an extensive area (34,650 hectares) of marine shoreline, reefs and islets providing habitat for BC’s recovering Sea Otter population. . The restricted range is a result of the single introduction back onto Vancouver Island. Spring Island, located in the Mission Group of Islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island, is near the Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve and the First Nations village of Kyuquot. westcoastexpeditions.com. “That was our food.”. Dedicated staff had to bottle-feed and groom them until they learned how to do it themselves. There are about 5000 Sea otters in British Columbia, mostly seen in sea kelp beds from a boat. “It is a constant motion machine,” says David Pinel, our guide and the owner of kayak tour company West Coast Expeditions. Welcome to Sea Otter Eco Tours Welcome to Sea Otter Eco Tours Welcome to Sea Otter Eco Tours Welcome to Sea Otter Eco Tours. When otters move in, they devour the urchins and kelp forests flourish as a result. Experience Adventure. Also, while Tofino-based tourismoperatorsmay benefit from increased sea ottertourism opportunities, these profits may not reach First Nations communities that are not part of the wildlife tourism economy and yet are often negatively impacted by the return of sea otters. Located in beautiful Port Alice, B.C. In comparison, the equivalent figure for a high chance of seeing whales was $302. The otters were feeding over kelp beds where they were pulling up red turban snails and smashing them in half on rocks that they used as tools. Now they’re thriving in their Aquarium habitat. Unlike the shallow-diving ducks, otters can dive down more than 20 metres to retrieve sea urchins and other invertebrates off the seafloor. Unlike other marine mammals, they do not have a layer of blubber to keep them warm. “The sea otters provide this really cool prey subsidy to the ducks,” says, The long-term influence of these ecology wizards on the landscape is still not entirely understood. You also agree to receive email updates on new posts and offers. See also. Follow us on social media and keep up-to-date with the geographic and travel quarterly magazine of British Columbia. The Vancouver Aquarium has just dropped what might be the cutest video of the season: an adorable group of sea otters playing in the fresh snowfall. You will have much better chances of seeing them on a trip from Tofino, or perhaps from Port Hardy with Nakwakto Rapids Tours. The ecological changes the otters trigger have an economic cost. Because urchins are very nutritious, it helps the birds make it through the winter. Sign up for our newsletter to get exclusive content, contests, and perks direct to you. The composition of social groups within the Vancouver Aquarium’s sea otter population changes frequently and for many reasons, among them enrichment, animal welfare, management ─ and healthcare. Coastal wolves that patrol the Mission Group of islands are able to include sea otters on the menu of their marine diet, while harlequin ducks follow sea otters in the wintertime, also hoping for a good meal. “The sea otters provide this really cool prey subsidy to the ducks,” says Rechsteiner. She suspects that kelp that wash up on the shoreline may feed the terrestrial ecosystem and the small animals that live on land, but more research needs to be done to test this assumption. They could easily be mistaken for bobbing kelp floats, but binoculars reveal a raft of about 120 sea otters. Found on the rugged northwest coast of Vancouver Island, Nootka Sound is a remarkable coastal region unparalleled in it’s seascapes and wildlife. Sea otter populations in Alaska are now quite healthy. To a sea urchin, crab or clam, a sea otter is a fearsome predator. “People can connect the relevance of the sea otter story with some elements of being a human on our own and the various struggles for existence for staying warm, dry and feeding ourselves,” Pinel notes. The reintroduction to B.C. The sea otter is the heaviest in the Mustelidae family including 13 otters, among them the giant otter. Canada. The last otters seen in B.C. It’s not just the kids that are enjoying Metro Vancouver’s fresh sheet of snow. They had just had a very successful fishing trip and were busily devouring a bunch of little flounders or sand dabs. On land, visitors may also notice beach-cast kelp, another potential sea otter effect. Their numbers and range have expanded rapidly, and there are now nearly 7,000 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of B.C.Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in the late 1800s. Because of their higher metabolic rate, sea otters must eat up to a quarter of their weight daily to meet their energy requirements. Nichol said the otters are simply playing out their evolutionary role, but it "creates conflict with people who want shellfish." The island, which boasts an intact old-growth rainforest with giant Sitka spruce trees and Western redcedar trees that are over 1,000 years, is also in the heart of sea otter country. In this case, the estimated gain in potential revenue for tourism operators in the region would be approximately $9.5, tourism opportunities, these profits may not reach First Nations communities that are not part of the wildlife tourism economy and yet are often negatively impacted by the return of. Since then, otters have made a remarkable comeback. Virtually the entire sea otter range is contained within the boundaries of Olympic National Park and, for the most part, can only be accessed by hiking from one to several miles. By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. “The best-known effect of sea otters is an increase in kelp,” says Jane Watson, a marine ecologist at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. Rechsteiner suspects that as otters pull bunches of large mussels off the rocks, this creates bare patches where juvenile invertebrates can settle and grow, which in turn feeds the oystercatchers who cannot eat the larger mussels. Nuchatlitz is one of the few places in Canada where we can reliably view sea otters. Vancouver Aquarium Rescues 'Orphaned' Otter Pup, Found 'Hypothermic and Hypoglycemic' The little pup, named Joey, was found near Kyuquot and flown to Vancouver for care 29 photos of Vancouver under a fresh blanket of snow, Canucks trade draft pick to Rangers for goaltender Marek Mazanec, Justin Trudeau just visited Burnaby's La Forêt Bakery (PHOTOS). Earlier today, the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal trainers held a “snow enrichment session” with their six rescued sea otters: Tanu, Katmai, Mak, Kunik, Rialto, and Hardy. Hunted to extirpation by fur traders, sea otters were absent in British Columbia by the 1930s. From his kayak, Sabbas watches the sea otter raft, along with a group of tourists in awe, just a few minutes away from base camp. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 otters from Alaska were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. Home to rescued sea otters. In Washington, sea otter spotting is difficult at best. Sea otter researcher Erin Foster and naturalist Jackie Hildering count otters for a coastal survey around the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Sea otters were locally extinct in British Columbian waters in Canada, until a plane containing a romp of otters arrived and set off a population boom – with unintended consequences. At low tide, Spring Island’s shoreline becomes alive with colours and movement. Between 1969 and 1972, 89 otters from Alaska were reintroduced to Checleset Bay. Meet the Vancouver Aquarium's rescued sea otter pup, Hardy, who is literally too cute for you to handle. ’s engineering impacts are going to be on seagrass beds,” says Margot Hessing-Lewis. The return of sea otters seems to benefit a range of animals, small and big. From the moment she was discovered in 2004, orphaned and alone in the water by a boater near Sitka, Alaska, Tanu captured the hearts of everyone who met her. Biologists describe sea otters as a keystone species, meaning that as they come back, they are transforming the environment around them. “There is a market share they may be missing by not advertising sea otters,” Martone says. Visitors at the Aquarium can get to know the six rescued animals and their stories during daily sea otter talks. On the wild west coast of Vancouver Island lies Nuchatlitz Provincial Marine Park – a spectacular group of small islets, soft sand beaches, open ocean views, and amazing wildlife. River otters are very messy eaters—but they really appear to … A study led by marine ecologist Russell Markel found that kelp forests were nearly 20 times larger on the west coast of Vancouver Island after otters eliminated red sea urchins. “I don’t mind the sea otters,” says the 20-year old. ... See all photos. West Coast Expeditions offers a variety of sea kayaking tours from Spring Island – including a five-day sea otter kayaking expedition. From land or from a kayak, visitors can enjoy the various and sometimes comical behaviours sea otters engage in. Start typing to see results or hit ESC to close. Where privacy and recreation come together to create Personalized Adventures! Unlike the shallow-diving ducks, otters can dive down more than 20 metres to retrieve sea urchins and other invertebrates off the seafloor. They bring back their catch to the surface, often lying on their back with food on the chest, while they eat and handle prey. The Aquarium says the first meeting went very well, and they will continue to gradually introduce Tanu … “The jury is still out as what the sea. Daily Hive is a Canadian-born online news source, established in 2008, that creates compelling, hyperlocal content. Sea otters are not related to seals or sea lions, but are rather a member of the mink family. Because urchins are very nutritious, it helps the birds make it through the winter. And at the Vancouver Aquarium, you can also go behind the scenes to see and learn more about sea otters! During his tours, Pinel promotes cultural interactions between Kyuquot-Checleset First Nations members and tourists through a traditional salmon feast around an open fire. When Pinel leads land-based and kayak tours off Spring Island, he points to the multiple interactions between the sea otters and the local ecosystem, as tourists spot a flock of oystercatchers on a small rock or take notice of the healthy seagrass beds in the intertidal zone. “It was like being in a middle of a drumming circle.”. A … “I don’t have the same feelings toward them as my grandma.”, West Coast Expeditions offers a variety of sea kayaking tours from Spring Island – including a five-day sea otter kayaking expedition. “All the rocks made slightly different sounds, there were so many otters,” Rechsteinersays. "It's a very complex issue and we'll see how it unfolds," she said. “All the rocks made slightly different sounds, there were so many otters,”, says. You may see them in spots like Esquimalt Harbour and Lagoon, Telegraph Cove, Tofino and Ucluelet harbours, Jack Point in … “It seems there is much more beach-cast kelp in areas with sea otters,” says Rechsteiner. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. (Animal encounters are … One night in early July, a woman in the Vancouver Island village of Kyuquot heard the cries of an animal in distress through the darkness from the … Their numbers and range have expanded rapidly, and there are now nearly 7,000 animals along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the central coast of B.C.Ironically, Spring Island—where the otters are now a regular sight—was named after Captain William Spring who was involved in the fur trade up and down the Pacific Coast and contributed to the decline of fur seal and sea otter populations in … Rechsteiner fondly remembers once seeing 50 male otters getting blown into a small cove during a winter storm on the central coast. Vancouver Island Range The sea otter is distributed exclusively on the west coast of the island, ranging from Cape Scott in the north, to Barkley Sound in the south (though southward expansion is likely occurring). Coastal wolves that patrol the Mission Group of islands are able to include sea otters on the menu of their marine diet, while harlequin ducks follow sea otters in the wintertime, also hoping for a good meal. For example, if there were more sea otters in an area, this would translate into a 7.4 percent increase in tourists choosing to go on a wildlife tour with a high probability of seeing a sea otter. 29 photos of Vancouver under a fresh blanket of snow That’s why you may occasionally see, for example, a fur seal or harbor seal in the sea otter exhibit. For example, Rechsteiner found that in areas where otters had been established the longest—like the Kyuquot region—there were more oystercatchers than in areas where otters had arrived recently. Rechsteiner fondly remembers once seeing 50 male otters getting blown into a small cove during a winter storm on the central coast. If these dates don't work for you, consider our 4-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour or 6-Day Sea Otter Kayak Tour trip dates! On the other hand, the disturbance they create may contribute to releasing carbon buried in the sediment into the atmosphere. We were treated to a family of six river otters in the bay just off Second Beach in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Due to a ban on hunting, and reintroduction of a small population back into British Columbia, the sea otter populations off the west coast of Vancouver Island have been slowly increasing. It’s not just the kids that are enjoying Metro Vancouver’s fresh sheet of snow. For example, Ryan Sabbas, Hilda Hansen’s grandson, guides tours with Pinel on Spring Island, and is a graduate of Vancouver Island-based Aboriginal Ecotourism Training Program. Location: Nootka Sound, BC. From shore, shiny black heads can be seen at the surface of the water. Hunted to extirpation by fur traders, sea otters were absent in British Columbia by the 1930s. A recent survey of Vancouver Island visitors find that the willingness to pay for a wildlife tour was $228 per visitor if there was a high chance of seeing otters. for decades were reportedly shot off the west coast of Vancouver Island between 1929 and 1930. Also keep in mind that some animals may simply not get along well enough to spend time together without supervision. When Pinel leads land-based and kayak tours off Spring Island, he points to the multiple interactions between the sea otters and the local ecosystem, as tourists spot a flock of oystercatchers on a small rock or take notice of the healthy seagrass beds in the intertidal zone. They bring back their catch to the surface, often lying on their back with food on the chest, while they eat and handle prey. “The fact that sea otters are the second most important factor in people’s choice to go on a wildlife tour, after whales, suggests that people are really interested in sea otters and that there is potential benefit to tourism on the west coast of Vancouver Island,” says Rebecca Martone who led the tourism study as a research associate with the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. The marine mammal trainers managed to capture some footage of the six sea otters playing in the snow, and well… you should just watch for yourself. Otters’ impacts on coastal ecosystems can be far-reaching. S shoreline becomes alive with colours and movement or clam, a sea otter pup, Hardy who. Newsletter to get exclusive content, contests, and perks direct to you link... 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