Sea Otter Population in Glacier Bay

Sea otters have made a huge comeback in recent decades. They were almost wiped out completely by the end of the nineteenth century due to the fur trade. Today, rafts containing several hundred sea otters can be seen around kelp beds behind Drake and Willoughby Island in Glacier Bay. However, populations fluctuate greatly. They are still reclaiming their former range.


In their absence, their food sources, including sea urchins, exploded with dire consequence to kelp forests. This had an impact on the reproduction of small feed fish, which are important to salmon and whales. Due to an unnaturally high abundance of prey, sea otters tend to overharvest an area and move on when little is left, leaving a depleted seabed behind. This pattern of extremes will continue for quite some time until a balance is reached again. The longterm health and productivity of these marine ecosystems benefits greatly from the presence of these playful and endearing creatures.

To read more check out Matthias Breiter’s award-winning book Inside Passage with stunning Alaskan wildlife photography.