Few people need an additional reason to save sea otters. Beyond their cute, charismatic charm, they're recognized as a keystone species - an animal that by its presence, shapes the environment and the animals that live there in a way that is super beneficial.
Sea otters have long been seen as a necessary component in a healthy kelp forest ecosystem. If left unchecked, herbivores like urchins, will munch their way through all of the plant life at their spiny fingertips and leave a barren and desolate seafloor.
But now there's a new reason to be concerned about "urchin barrens." Giant kelp can grow to lengths of 175 feet and like its terrestrial forest counterparts, kelp takes in carbon dioxide in photosynthesis; a term climate scientists refer to as carbon sinking. A team of scientists at University California Santa Cruz set about calculating the value of kelp's carbon sink, and how an individual sea otter contributed to that sink.
If you were to trade the value of these critter carbon credits on the open market, you'd be looking at around $700 million. And remember, that's with a declining population of less than 3,000 animals. Imagine if that population were restored to full health?
There's a Sea Otter Recovery Bill in the Senate right now that seeks to appropriate federal funds to help sea otters. You can take action today. You can also go to our website to learn how to reduce your carbon impact so that sea otters don't take all the credit!