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Posted Tue Feb 28 2012: from New York Times:
Pacific Sea Otters' Failure to Thrive Confounds Wildlife Sleuths
...For the wildlife biologists, a clear explanation for the sea otters' failure to thrive is proving just as elusive. Almost wiped out by fur traders, the species rebounded after an international ban on commercial otter hunting in 1911. But today, the otter population in California is just 2,700, in a mosaic of small, separate colonies off the coast, down from perhaps as many as 16,000 in the past. Multiple factors are stalling the recovery. One popular view, supported by veterinary pathologists who study dead otters, primarily blames coastal pollution -- in the form of parasites, bacteria, toxins and chemicals. But Dr. Tinker and other biologists say that, at least in the areas where the sea otter population is highest, off Monterey and nearby Big Sur, the underlying problem is simply that the otters are running out of food.
[Read more stories about: food crisis, marine mammals, massive die-off, contamination]
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'Doc Michael says:
Or, perhaps, they're just giving up.

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