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Sharks blamed for increase in California sea otter deaths

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. >> Sharks are killing and injuring California’s endangered sea otters in record numbers.

The U.S. Geological Survey says 335 dead, sick or injured otters were found last year.

USGS wildlife biologist Tim Tinker tells the Los Angeles Times that shark bites accounted for 15 percent of the sea otter deaths in the late 1990s.

Nearly a third of otter deaths were blamed on sharks in 2010 and 2011.

Tinker, who is with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center in Santa Cruz, says sharks seem to favor breeding-age female otters.

The last official sea otter population report said there were 2,711 otters, which is 379 short of the threshold that would begin consideration for removing otters from the federal endangered species list.

 

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