SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Sea otters could be what's standing in the way of Pacific Gas and Electric's proposed seismic testing.
Now researchers want to know how sea otters will be impacted by the potential seismic surveys near the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.
Central Coast News was on scene when with researchers as they caught and tagged a sea otter Thursday in San Simeon to show us how they do it. Once an otter is brought to shore the process goes quickly to tag them.
Once veterinarians finish taking blood and tissue samples they will take the animal in for surgery to implant tracking devices. Scientists plan to tag and track 2/3rds of otters from the area where seismic surveys will be performed and another third from outside the survey area as a control group. "By comparing the two, the study area and control area we will be able to find differences based on stresses the animal may be subjected," said Dr. Mike Murray.
The study will last about 2 to 3 years. This tracking device will help scientists keep an eye on the otter and a time depth recorder will tell scientists information up to the second about the otters behavior over the next few years. After that they will re-catch the otter to see if it has changed.
The final step is tagging the otter. Once the otter is patched up, it is ready to be released back into the ocean. Scientists will wait patiently for the crucial information they will be analyzing 2 years from now. PG & E is giving both the resources and funding for the project. It's required by Fish and Wildlife Services to get approval for the seismic studies.
By the end of next week, researchers hope to catch and tag 60 otters.