Sea otters and the nearshore ecosystems they inhabit-from highly urbanized California to relatively pristine Alaska-are the focus of a new multidisciplinary study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and a suite of international, academic and government collaborators. The Coastal Ecosystem Responses to Influences from Land and Sea project will investigate the many interacting variables that influence the health of coastal ecosystems along the Northeast Pacific shore. These ecosystems face unprecedented challenges, with threats arising from the adjacent oceans and lands. From the ocean, challenges include acidification, sea level rise, and warming. From the land, challenges include elevated biological, geological and chemical pollutants associated with burgeoning human populations along coastlines. The implications of these challenges for biological systems are only beginning to be explored. Comparing sea otter population status indicators from around the northeastern Pacific Rim, will begin the process of defining factors of coastal ecosystem health in this broad region.