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Age-specific reproduction in female sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from south-central Alaska: Analysis of reproductive tracts

January 1, 1993

We estimated age at sexual maturity and age-specific reproductive rates by examining carcasses and reproductive tracts from 177 female sea otters (Enhydra lutris). Carcasses were recovered from south-central Alaska, Primarily from western Prince William Sound, as a result of the T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. We found 65% of our sample to be sexually mature. Sexual maturity was first attained at age 2. The proportion of sexually mature animals increased from 30% at age 2 to 100% at age 5. Annual reproductive rates increased from 22% at age 2 to 78% at age 5 and remained relatively stable (75-88%) through to age 15. the sex ratio (female:male) of 49 fetal sea otters was 18:37 and differed significantly from parity. Females younger than 8 tended to produce more female fetuses, while older mothers did not. Our estimates of the reproductive characteristics of female sea otters obtained by examination of reproductive tracts were similiar to those reported in the literature based on in situ observations of marked individuals.

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