They’re cute, furry and important ecosystem members, but as top predators, sea otters may also seem problematic for those who seek to harvest the same seafood on which these mammals feed.
Hence, it’s understandable how these creatures can conjure mixed emotions for visitors and locals, alike.
This week, in Juneau, it seems to be all about otters.
Three separate events are scheduled locally in the spirit of spreading up-to-date and accurate information about the species, which has made a rebound regionally, but still faces problems elsewhere.
Each event is free and open to the public.
A host of experts will speak at a public symposium titled “The Science of Southeast Alaska’s Sea Otters: A Symposium to Share the Latest Scientific Data,” from 6-10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21 in the Egan Library at the University of Alaska Southeast.
A series of lectures will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience. Marine Ecologist Michelle Rideway will moderate.
The panel of experts includes:
• James A. Estes, professor, University of California Santa Cruz — keynote speaker.
• James L. Bodkin, retired research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
• Ginny L. Eckert, associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
• Verena A. Gill, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
• George G. Esslinger, zoologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
• M. Tim Tinker, research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
This symposium will also be available at select videoconference locations:
• Sitka Campus: 110
• Ketchikan Campus: P103
• Seward Marine Center: Rae 101
• UAF (Fairbanks): 214 O’Neill. The room combination is 3-25-16 (one button-two buttons-two buttons).
The University of Alaska Fisheries Department has scheduled a seminar beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22 with Jim Estes, who will speak on “Conserving the oceans: Do big animals matter?” at the UAF Lena Point, Room 101.
Fireside Lecture Series:
The Fireside Lecture for Friday, Feb. 22 is titled “A Sea of Otters” and will be presented by James Bodkin, a retired research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geologic Survey. Presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. and repeat at 8 p.m. at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.