Scientists to test sea otters’ reaction to seismic tests
October 15, 2012
Wildlife biologists and researchers have arrived in San Luis Obispo County to tag sea otters with surgical implants to measure the effects of the planned PG&E seismic testing on sea creatures. [SLO Tribune]
The study consists of capturing and tagging as many as 60 otters, two thirds of which will come from PG&E testing area and a one third from outside of the seismic mapping zones as a control group. Each otter will receive two surgical implants: one device that records diving activity and a radio transmitter that tracks the otters’ movement for up to three years.
Tagging of the otters began last week and will continue through Saturday. The operations stretches from Port San Luis to San Simeon with veterinarian teams located currently located on PG&E land north and south of Diablo Canyon, as well as at Morro Bay Harbor. The veterinarians, who surgically implant the tracking devices, move to San Simeon Thursday to complete the captures.
So far, the teams have captured 20 otters and tagged 16. They let four pregnant female otters go.
The Endangered Species Act lists California sea otters as threatened, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to PG&E that allows only limited harassment of the otters.
PG&E plans to begin the seismic testing in mid-November.