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TASSC SEA OTTER PROJECTS > Local Ssea Otter Abundance Trend Surveys

Program Description: Often called the Small Boat Survey, in this project, tribes and tribal members document sea otter population trend and abundance around their community. To accomplish this, people count sea otters around their local area from boats at the same time each year in identified survey areas in a standardized way.

History: The Section 119 funds provide communities with a systematic method of documenting sea otter distribution, abundance and population trends. While the Winter Mortality Survey documents those animals that have died, the Small Boat Survey documents those that are living. Because the surveys are conducted using similar methods throughout the state, comparability between sites is possible, thus strengthening the base line data.

Small Boat Survey transect map for Port Graham. Photo © TASSC.
  • The Small Boat Surveyors, once trained in survey protocols, begin to document any changes occurring in their local sea otter population systematically. More often than not, these surveys are the only sea otter survey work occurring in an area and excellent sea otter abundance trend data is collected.

  • The information collected is appropriately useful in a Sea Otter Local or Regional Management Plan.

  • Many communities have expanded the survey to document all marine mammals sighted.
A Small Boat Surveyor. Photo © TASSC.

Current/Future plans: Tribes recently involved in the SBS are Ouzinkie Traditional Council, Chignik Lagoon Village Council, Hydaburg Cooperative Association anf Craig Community Association. Having just started this program in their communities, it is too early to detect a sea otter population trend. The Qagan Tayagungin Tribe of Sand Point and Seldovia Village Tribe will have a training sometime in Spring 2006.

Tribes currently involved in the SBS and have data that can detect trends are the Native Village of Eyak (Cordova), Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska, Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, Port Graham Village Council and Native Village of Nanwalek.

For 2005 Small Boat Survey results, please click here.



A Small Boat Survey conducted in Port Graham. Photo © TASSC.



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