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Annual California Sea Otter Census - 2019 Spring Census Summary


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Hatfield, B.B., Yee, J.L., Kenner, M.C., and Tomoleoni, J.A., 2019, Annual California sea otter census - 2019 spring census summary: U.S. Geological Survey data release,


The spring 2019 mainland sea otter count began on May 1 and was completed by July 9. Overall viewing conditions this year were very good, better than those encountered during the 2018 spring census (View Score = 3.0 this year compared to 2.4 last year, where 0=poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=very good, and 4=excellent). The surface canopies of kelp (predominantly Macrocystis pyrifera) were qualitatively noted by observers to be much less than the seasonal normal in the central portions of the range (from Monterey to Cayucos) and about normal near both ends of the range. Sea otters along the mainland coast were surveyed from Pigeon Point in San Mateo County in the north, to Santa Barbara Harbor in Santa Barbara County in the south. A separate, [...]

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The range-wide census is conducted to monitor trends in abundance of the southern sea otter, and thus provide State and Federal resource agencies with the information they need for effective management. Because the censuses represent uncorrected total counts (rather than sample-based surveys), they cannot be considered as accurate estimates of true population abundance. Instead, these data represent a valuable time-series of index counts, and provide the means of assessing spatial and temporal trends in relative abundance. The 3-year running average of the spring counts have been identified as the best index of trends and status of the population, because these averages decrease the influence of year-to-year sampling variance. The 3-year average counts are used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in its listing determinations (de-listing or up-listing) for this legally threatened population.


The authors of these data require that data users contact them regarding intended use and to assist with understanding limitations and interpretation. Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. Although these data and associated metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the display or utility of the data on any other system or for general or scientific purposes, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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DOI doi:10.5066/P9B2KNB3

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