You Otter Read this!

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Did you know that southern sea otters are one of the few animals in the world that help scientists learn so much all at one time? That's because the southern otter is an Indicator Species, an Umbrella Species, and a Keystone Species. What do all these big words mean? Well, here's a quick overview:

The southern otter is an Indicator Species. This means that otters feel really small changes in their environment more so than other animals. If their environment's temperature changes just by a small amount, the southern otter may begin to move someplace that is either warmer or colder. When Indicator Species change where they live, or what they eat, it's kind of like a red indicator light flashing inside a car. When indicator lights flash, they signal people that some kind of action needs to be taken to make the red light stop flashing. Maybe the car needs gasoline. Maybe the car engine is too hot. Maybe the car's air filter has become too dirty and needs to be changed. Well, when scientists notice that an Indicator Species is changing their behavior this is an indication that there are most likely other animals living nearby that are also adjusting their behaviors. If too many animals discover that their environment is changing faste.... more >>

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Dr. Maldini informed us about an environmental issue that has had a profound affect on the southern otter population. This involves the toxcicity associated with cat litter that is flushed, rather than sealed and thrown away. The flushed water containing cat litter eventually makes its way to the ocean, and when it does, animals living near shore are the most impacted. Thanks for your interest.

Comments by Miss Clark on Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 11:35:01 PM