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Southern sea otter

Southern sea otter

BANDON - Robert Bailey, board president of Elakha Alliance will speak at 2 p.m. Saturday July 13, at the Bandon Public Library, 1204 11th St. SW.

Bailey's talk will explore the history of sea otters in Oregon, their ecological and cultural importance, and the prospects for their return and recovery. It will also touch on the mission of the Elakha Alliance, an Oregon nonprofit organization devoted to sea otter conservation (https://www.myowf.org/elakhaalliance).

Sea otters were once common on the Oregon coast, part of populations that stretched around the Pacific Rim from northern Japan to Baja California. Early coastal people revered sea otters and valued highly their rich fur. But by the early 1800s, Russian and British fur companies had hunted sea otters nearly to extinction throughout their range. Only a few remnant populations survived, providing the basis for sea otter populations that have returned in the Monterey Bay area in California, the Olympic Coast in Washington, Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and the Southeast Alaska coast.

Nearly 50 years ago, sea otters from Amchatka Island in Alaska were relocated by state and federal wildlife agencies to Port Orford, Cape Blanco and Cape Arago, A few animals survived through the mid-1970s but then vanished for reasons not well understood. Today they remain missing on the Oregon coast.

Bailey is a native of Coos County and grew up in North Bend and Powers. In the early 1970s he was a planner for Coos County and lived on Bear Creek, near Bandon. For 20 years he worked on ocean management issues for the State of Oregon and spent eight years as manager of the Oregon Coastal Management Program before retiring in 2011.

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