September 27, 2006:
Unusual Mortality Event Determined for Kachemak Bay
Tribal Project Presentation Meeting a Success
Staff Update

Unusual Mortality Event Determined for Kachemak Bay

The Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events has determined that a significant increase in sea otter strandings in Kachemak Bay in recent years constitutes an Unusual Mortality Event (UME). This determination comes in response to a request for such a finding by the USFWS’ Alaska Region Marine Mammals Management Office, and could result in additional funding to monitor the overall health and population size of Kachemak Bay sea otters.

Although sea otters strand for a variety of reasons, this UME was requested because the predominant cause of death among the animals necropsied was damage to the heart resulting from Streptococcus bovis/equinus, a bacterial infection. Many sea otters that have been observed prior to their death appear to be paralyzed in their hindquarters. Many more have been observed hauled out in Kachemak Bay with limited or no use of their hindquarters.

There are no obvious human health concerns, though USFWS biologists wish to remind the public to not handle any live or dead sea otters that they may find on the beach. If you do find a dead sea otter any where in Alaska please call the USFWS immediately at 1-800-362-5148. They will arrange for shipment and necropsy of the animal. Guidelines for notifying authorities can also be found at: alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/strandings.htm.

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Tribal Project Presentation Meeting a Success

On August 31st, TASSC held a meeting where tribes funded under the 2004 Request for Proposals (RFP) for TASSC Tribal Sea Otter Projects presented on their projects. The intent of the meeting was to provide an avenue for participating tribes to showcase their local projects and discuss how these projects have benefited the tribes.

Presentations were given from Chugach Regional Resource Commission, Native Village of Eyak, Hydaburg Cooperative Association, Leisnoi Village, and Dan Martinez (TASSC) presented on behalf of Togiak Traditional Council, Native Village of Unga, Old Harbor Tribal Council, and Craig Community Association. This meeting culminated the project and also offered valuable feedback to TASSC and the USFWS in regards to the future direction of the project. All participants present agreed that the tribal sea otter projects were successful and provided the opportunity for their community to participate in projects that they would otherwise not have been able to.

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Staff Update

TASSC Sea Otter Coordinator
At the end of July 2006, TASSC said goodbye to Carl Kava, then TASSC Sea Otter Programs Coordinator. Hired in 2002, Carl was responsible for the Small Boat Survey Program, Sea Otter Winter Mortality Surveys, and the Sea Otter Biosampling Program. To TASSC member tribes Carl said, “It was a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with you and your tribe over the last couple of years. I would like to thank you for all of the traditional and cultural experiences I have enjoyed.” TASSC would like to thank Carl for all of his hard work during his time with TASSC. Lianna Jack will be overseeing the projects that Carl coordinated. Lianna can be reached at 800.474.4362 or ljack@seaotter-sealion.org.

TASSC Communications Coordinator
The FY06 Cooperative Agreement with the USFWS included a new project entitled Communications and Outreach. This project created a position at TASSC for a Communications Coordinator. Emily Fruzza, staff at the Commission since November 2004, is TASSC’s new Communications Coordinator. Having a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art/graphic design, she was very excited to take on this position. Emily and TASSC are very eager to utilize this new project to continue and expand upon TASSC’s outreach. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about TASSC’s outreach, please contact Emily at efruzza@seaotter-sealion.org.

 

 

 

 
 
       

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