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Annual California Sea Otter Census-2018 Spring Census Summary

September 24, 2018

The spring 2018 mainland sea otter count began on April 26, and was completed by May 24, 2018. Overall viewing conditions this year were good and rounded off to the same conditions experienced during the 2017 spring census (View Score 2.4, where 0=poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=very good, and 4=excellent). The surface canopies of kelp (Macrocystis sp.) were considered by most participants to be above normal for this time of year in most areas of the mainland range, and considerably above what was encountered during the 2017 spring census. Sea otters along the mainland coast were surveyed from Pillar Point in San Mateo County in the north to Rincon Point in the south at the Santa Barbara/Ventura County line. A separate ground-based survey of the sea otter population at San Nicolas Island was completed earlier in the spring (April 13-15) under fair to good survey viewing conditions (View Score = 1.5). Surface kelp canopies at San Nicolas Island were estimated to be near the seasonal normal.

These data support the following U.S. Geological Survey Data Series:
Hatfield, B.B., Yee, J.L., Kenner, M.C., Tomoleoni, J.A., and Tinker, M.T., 2018, California sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) census results, spring 2018: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1097, 10 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1097.