Sunday, October 5, 2008

Otter you do? Actually, not so well

"...We did an analysis to say, 'How many killer whales would it take to kill 50,000 otters?', and it turned out it was, like, three. I think they just came in, ate the otters, and left. We happened to be there to see it." said an ecologist who studied the eating patterns of sea creatures and their predators.

The chain goes like this: sea otters eat sea urchins, which keeps the kelp forests thriving, and bald eagles eat sea otters, except when there aren't enough and they have to switch to sea birds. Why aren't there enough otters? Because the killer whales ate them. The killer whales' meal of choice is large whales, and there aren't enough of those, either, due to international whaling after WWII. This is happening in Alaska, Ms. Palin. Harrumph.

It's interesting, since it jumps realms (from sea to land), but also controversial since in order to rebalance, it's clear what has to happen: recover the large whales. Thus, no more major whaling should take place. Anyone disagree?

No comments: