Sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) movements, home range, and activity budgets were described from data collected during very-high-frequency radiotelemetry studies of 75 individuals on the outer coast of Washington State between 1992 and 1999. Sea otters were located at least once per week from 22 accessible sites along the coast. Over the 7-year study period, range expansion occurred from the core range north and east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca (SJF) as well as southward on the outer coast. Forty-three percent of the sea otters moved into the SJF at least once, most often in winter, using habitat that had not been occupied by sea otters since their extirpation 100 years ago. All sea otters spent portions of their time in the vicinity of Cape Alava, and many animals demonstrated consistent periodic seasonal shifts between specific portions of the coastline over several years. Ninety-five percent annual linear home ranges differed between sex and age classes. Adult males used the largest amount of coastline (50 km ?? 9 5D) and subadult females used the least (24 ?? 9 km). Both adult males and females demonstrated high seasonal periodicity in range use in summer and winter. Twenty-four-hour time budgets in the core portion of the range revealed on average sea otters spent 41% ?? 14% SD of the time foraging and 45% ?? 13% of the time resting (age and sex classes pooled). Adult and subadult female sea otters were most frequently found resting and foraging close to shore (< 1,000 m) and in shallow water (0-10 m), whereas adult and subadult males rested and foraged > 1,000 m offshore and at depths between 10 and 30 m. Given current rates of population growth and observed mobility, sea otters in Washington have high potential for range expansion into unoccupied habitat such as Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, the SJF, or along Vancouver Island. ?? 2009 American Society of Mammalogists.
Additional publication details
Spatial habitat use patterns of sea otters in coastal washington