Lighthouse Lecture Series - Scott Mercer

Lighthouse Lecture Series - Scott Mercer

Past Events

Scott Mercer presents Sea Otters and Kelp Forest Ecology as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series on Saturday, December 16 at 4 p.m. in the Fog Signal Building Museum at the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Sea otters are termed keystone species and ecosystem engineers due to their profound impact on their environment. Keystone species circulate throughout their habitat and have a wide variety of prey which checks the population of many species.

In this lecture presentation Scott will explain that sea otters are termed “keystone species and ecosystem engineers” due to their profound impact on their environment. Keystone species circulate throughout their habitat and have a wide variety of prey which checks the population of many species.

“Sea otters are at a unique juncture in their evolutionary journey,” he notes "They are more marine than terrestrial and more terrestrial than marine.” Sea otters are the only marine mammals without a blubber or fat layer. Fur has been their salvation and their downfall. They rely on their incredibly thick pelage, or fur coats, to maintain their body temperature. In addition, each adult sea otter consumes one-third of its body weight daily. In return, ecosystems with sea otters exhibit a 15-20% greater biodiversity.

In his presentation, Scott will discuss factors that determine the distribution and abundance of species. He will also discuss among many other subjects, such as their own natural history and how these German shepherd sized weasel relatives have shaped human economic and social history over their existence.

Scott began studying marine mammals in 1974 in Monterey Bay with an extended study of the feeding ecology of sea otters. After relocating to his native New England in 1978 he founded New England Whale Watch, Inc. as an opportunity to offer firsthand ocean life education to the public, and for him to collect data on the whales being observed. Scott was recently interviewed about his role as a pioneer in Atlantic Coast whale watching by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of a history of the whale watching industry in New England. He is also cofounder of the Brier Island Ocean Study, a research station in Nova Scotia, Canada. He has led offshore and overnight excursions to the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, in the Caribbean, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada. In 1982 he co-authored The Great Whale Book and for 14 years he taught a marine mammal class for the University of New Hampshire’s Continuing Education, as well as science classes for the Southern Maine Community College.

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