Southern Sea Otter

Scientific: Enhydra lutris nereis
Spanish: Nutria marina del sur
Mutsun: Suuyu

Diet: Urchins, shellfish, crabs and other invertebrates
Habitat: Kelp forests, estuaries
Status: Endangered

Back From Extinction But Still Endangered
Sea otters are mustelids, the same family as weasels, badgers and wolverines. Unlike other marine mammals, otters have thick fur rather than blubber, making them a target for the fur trade historically. They were nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th and early 20th century, but under protection the population has grown to over 3,000. Sea otters can routinely be seen in the Monterey Bay, where they play an important role in the kelp forest ecosystem as a keystone species.

What would happen if there were no otters to eat urchins (which eat kelp)?