Sea otters have had a pretty good year. One of California’s youngest captive otters, for instance, was whisked away to a cushy Chicago aquarium just this year.
The otter pup was just days old and less than 6 pounds when she was discovered by beach-goers at Half Moon Bay. After relaxing at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Luna (named for Half Moon Bay, of course) was shipped off to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, where she was promptly fattened up on a diet of crab, clams and shrimp. The now-plump baby otter has been a big hit in the Windy City. USA Today even posted a video titled “Baby Sea Otter is the Best Thing to Happen to Chicago Since Oprah” (much to the chagrin of President Obama, we’re sure).
Another well-loved captive otter, Taylor, just celebrated his 21st birthday with his scientist trainers at Long Marine Lab. (For more information on that, see ).
Taylor and Luna’s wild counterparts may receive prolonged protection through a bill recently introduced by Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblymembers Luis Alejo and Mark Stone. If approved, Senate Bill 17 will keep the California Sea Otter Fund, the primary source of funding for many otter management and conservation programs, alive for another five years. The fund, which is currently scheduled to sunset in 2016, was first introduced in 2007 and has since garnered more than $2 million for otter conservation. Californians can voluntarily contribute to the fund on their state income tax.
Though otters were nearly exterminated by the 19th-century fur trade, their numbers have since grown. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that current populations are now stable. USGS biologists calculated this year’s otter population at 2,944 individuals, a five-otter increase from last year. To be relieved of its endangered status, the population needs to accrue 147 more otters and maintain at least that number for three consecutive years.
Bredette Dyer, a trainee for the Homeless Garden Project (HGP), worried this holiday season that she would again be without a home when she learned that her rent would be increasing by $325 a month.
Dyer had been working a part-time seasonal job wrapping gifts at The Garden Company on Mission Street. When owner Charlie Keutmann found out about his new hardworking employee’s predicament, he promoted her to a 32-hour-per-week job, starting in February. “I love the security of knowing that I will have a stable income, not just hoping for the rest,” Dyer says. “I’ll be able to stay in my home and pay my rent, even if it’s high.”
A few months earlier, HGP executive director Darrie Ganzhorn had Keutmann come in and speak about transitioning into the workforce. Since then, Dyer is the second person from HGP whom he hired.
“That’s a really big part of what we’re trying to do here, create a community that’s working to get to solve homelessness,” Ganzhorn says, “and Charlie and The Garden Company have really done that.”