I’m a total sucker for cute animal videos, and a while ago I came across this video of a sea lion that falls in love with a woman on the beach. I’m not sure where it was filmed, but I thought of it when I spotted sea lions while road tripping down Highway 1.
Even cuter than sea lions, though, are sea otters, which are also native to that magnificent stretch of Northern California coastline. Unfortunately, the lives of sea otters have been in danger due to disgusting toxins flushed into the ocean. The Sea Otter Alliance is a good resource for finding out more about these adorable animals. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers helpful information on California coastal protection, sustainable seafood, and saving sea otters. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website’s sea otter page:
Southern sea otters once ranged from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest. But by the 1920s they were considered extinct due to intensive hunting. They were listed as “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Act in 1977. But despite decades of federal and state protection, the population of southern sea otters(Enhydra lutris nereis) which resides along the California coast, struggles to survive at a fraction of its historic numbers, estimated at 16,000-20,000 animals. No one knows why the population isn’t recovering. Pathogens and parasites, possibly linked to coastal pollution, can weaken otter immune systems. And the risk of a major oil spill remains a serious threat.
Jack Kerouac obsessed over the death of a sea otter in his novel Big Sur. After On the Road became such a huge success that fans were literally arriving on Kerouac’s doorstep, the author retreated to nature, staying at his friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Big Sur. Kerouac was a man who loved animals, going to the extent of putting out food for wildlife. He was drinking heavily at the time and the novel documents a dark period in his life. Death becomes a constant threat, and foreshadows his own premature death, as he sees animals all around him die. One in particular is a sea otter that washes ashore, which he mentions time and time again in the novel.