Abstract Title

Session S-04D: Marine Birds and Mammals of the Salish Sea: Identifying Patterns and Causes of Change - I

Presenter/Author Information

Sierra ReedFollow

Keywords

Species and Food Webs

Start Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 6:30 PM

Description

Lontra canadensis, more commonly known as the North American river otter, is a resident in many riparian and coastal ecosystems across the continent. The behaviors of mainland populations – the inhabitants of freshwater lakes and rivers – have been well documented and studied over the years. The impact of tides on coastal and estuarine populations, however, is still largely unknown. Therefore in 2012, members of the Ocean Research College Academy, a dual enrollment program run through Everett Community College, began analyzing scats collected from latrine sites in Possession Sound. Preliminary diet analysis revealed target prey consisting of mostly saltwater species. Given otters’ high metabolic rates and prey availability in estuaries being driven by tidal cycles, it was then hypothesized that otters follow their marine food sources into the estuary with the high tides, when the water’s salinity would be high enough to sustain their prey species. To test this, game cameras were installed at latrine sites on Jetty Island and the Hat Island ferry dock in Everett, Washington. Visits by otters were documented and time stamped, with corresponding tide stages and heights recorded. The majority of visitations occurred at tide heights between 4 and 10 feet (72.1% of visits) with considerably fewer camera captures during extreme highs and lows.

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May 1st, 5:00 PM May 1st, 6:30 PM

Determination of Tidal Influence on Lontra Canadensis through Remote Monitoring

Room 6C

Lontra canadensis, more commonly known as the North American river otter, is a resident in many riparian and coastal ecosystems across the continent. The behaviors of mainland populations – the inhabitants of freshwater lakes and rivers – have been well documented and studied over the years. The impact of tides on coastal and estuarine populations, however, is still largely unknown. Therefore in 2012, members of the Ocean Research College Academy, a dual enrollment program run through Everett Community College, began analyzing scats collected from latrine sites in Possession Sound. Preliminary diet analysis revealed target prey consisting of mostly saltwater species. Given otters’ high metabolic rates and prey availability in estuaries being driven by tidal cycles, it was then hypothesized that otters follow their marine food sources into the estuary with the high tides, when the water’s salinity would be high enough to sustain their prey species. To test this, game cameras were installed at latrine sites on Jetty Island and the Hat Island ferry dock in Everett, Washington. Visits by otters were documented and time stamped, with corresponding tide stages and heights recorded. The majority of visitations occurred at tide heights between 4 and 10 feet (72.1% of visits) with considerably fewer camera captures during extreme highs and lows.