Sept. 26, 2012
UCSC Study show how urchin-loving otters can help fight global warming
Two researchers of UC Santa Cruz have been studying the effect of sea otters keeping sea urchin populations down and how this helps kelp forests to be able to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere. By combining 40 years of data collected from Vancouver to Alaska helped by professor Wilmer’s and co-authors the researchers show that sea otters definitely have a strong influence on the matter. With their studies they see that when sea otters are around sea urchins hide and only feed on scarce amounts of kelp but when there aren’t sea otters around the urchins feed openly on all of the living kelp diminishing the amount so not as much CO2 is absorbed out of the atmosphere. Kelp forests are a big contribution to removing CO2 by using photosynthesis. If the sea urchins keep feeding on all of the kelp then there will no longer be as much to absorb the CO2 from the atmosphere causing more global warming. If there is a way to protect and or enhance the sea otter population in the kelp forest area it could help with a part of global warming and start fighting it slowly but surely.
This story relates to Earth Science in the fact that sea otters could be helping fight global warming. By the sea otters eating the sea urchins that feed on the kelp forests they are saving the kelp forests so that there is more to be able to perform photosynthesis and absorb a lot more CO2 out of the atmosphere helping everyone in the process.
I thought this story was interesting in the fact that just this one small thing could make such a big effect on the world. Just by simply helping sea otters keep the urchin levels down it helps everyone with the problem of global warming and the CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. I think this will change how society does things by having researchers and scientists think of a way to better protect sea otters while also...