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Sea Otters and Crab Populations


Sea otters are one of the most beloved creatures that inhabit the oceans of southern California and there is a very pressing issue currently facing them. Sea otters are a natural predator of the Dungeness crab which is a commonly sought-after species amongst fishermen. The problem resides with the fact that fishermen believe that bringing back the sea otter population through human interference could affect the Dungeness crab population and their business. While this is true to a certain extent, the impact of having more otters heavily outweighs the already over-inflated crab population. Firstly we must examine the populations of the two animals and compare the data to see if there is in fact a correlation.


Through these graphs, we really can’t see a time when a spike in the otter population leads to a sharp decline in the crab population. If anything the graphs parallel each other and show that the populations are in some way connected, which they are. Sea otters are known as a keystone species which essentially means that they hold together the ecosystems which they occupy. Dungeness crabs occupy the same ecosystems that the otters due which basically connects their population to the success of otters. Even though the otters predate the crabs they actually keep their habitat alive so well that they balance it out and basically negate their effect altogether on the crab populations. Through this, I have concluded that the sea otter does not affect the population of the Dungeness crab to an extent that it would affect the business of commercial fishermen.




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