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Sea Otter Savvy

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Living in the Monterey Bay Area I’ve become familiar with and very fond of sea otters. They are not an uncommon site for me when I’m out taking photos.

Sea Otters were practicing “social distancing” before it was cool. There are laws protecting them and the recommended distance from them is 50 yards. My photos of them are taken from a distance so they are not disturbed, which can be harmful to them. I’ve come across some sea otters that were too friendly for their own good, however. When that happens I usually try to back away slowly.

I captured this little guy while I was out taking photos of a smoky sunset from the recent fire storms  here in California. Being as fond of them as I am I was honored when Sea Otter Savvy used this photo for their article. (Read below) 

For more information about sea otters and why they are an important vulnerable species please visit

We hope all those impacted by the ongoing California fires are safe, and remember to limit your exposure to the smoke as it can negatively affect health – it also can impact the health of wildlife. Researchers found that after the 2008 Basin Complex Fire, sea otters were exposed to higher levels of carcinogenic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). By using gene transcription technology they were able to show that exposed sea otters had molecular reactions to the exposure, malignant transformation, and a decreased immune response – consistent with short-term exposure (Bowen et al. 2014). Luckily the sea otters sampled in 2009 appeared to be mostly back to normal. However, as fire seasons continue to lengthen, we all need to continue to be vigilant and practice #firesafety. #ScienceFriday #SeaOtterSavvySource: Bowen, L. et al. 2014. Effects of wildfire on sea otter (Enhydra lutris) gene transcript profiles. Marine Mammal Science doi: 10.1111/mms.12151.…/otters-feel-the-bur…/Photo by Amy Medina Photography on 8/21/2020 at Moss Landing State Beach taken from shore. Using 250mm on a cropped sensor camera.

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