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Annual California Sea Otter Census: 2019 Census Summary Shapefile

Metadata Updated: October 28, 2023

The GIS shapefile Census_sum_2019 provides a standardized tool for examining spatial patterns in abundance and demographic trends of the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), based on data collected during the spring 2019 range-wide census. The USGS spring range-wide sea otter census has been undertaken each year since 1982, using consistent methodology involving both ground-based and aerial-based counts. The spring census provides the primary basis for gauging population trends by State and Federal management agencies. This shapefile includes a series of summary statistics derived from the raw census data, including sea otter density (otters per square kilometer of habitat), linear density (otters per kilometer of coastline), relative pup abundance (ratio of pups to independent animals) and 5-year population trend (calculated as exponential rate of change). All statistics are calculated and plotted for small sections of habitat in order to illustrate local variation in these statistics across the entire mainland distribution of sea otters in California (as of 2019). Sea otter habitat is considered to extend offshore from the mean low tide line and out to the 60 meter isobath: this depth range includes over 99 percent of sea otter feeding dives, based on dive-depth data from radio tagged sea otters (Tinker et al 2006, 2007). Sea otter distribution in California (the mainland range) is considered to comprise this band of potential habitat stretching along the coast of California, and bounded to the north and south by range limits defined by combining independent otters within a moving window of 10-kilometer stretches of coastline (as measured along the 10-meter bathymetric contour; 20 contiguous ATOS intervals each) and taking the northern and southern ATOS values, respectively, of the northernmost and southernmost stretches in which at least five otters were counted for at least 2 consecutive spring surveys during the last 3 years. The polygon corresponding to the range definition was then sub-divided into onshore/offshore strips roughly 500 meters in width. The boundaries between these strips correspond to ATOS (As-The-Otter-Swims) points, which are arbitrary locations established approximately every 500 meters along a smoothed 5 fathom bathymetric contour (line) offshore of the State of California. References: Tinker, M. T., Doak, D. F., Estes, J. A., Hatfield, B. B., Staedler, M. M. and Bodkin, J. L. (2006), INCORPORATING DIVERSE DATA AND REALISTIC COMPLEXITY INTO DEMOGRAPHIC ESTIMATION PROCEDURES FOR SEA OTTERS. Ecological Applications, 16: 2293–2312,[2293:IDDARC]2.0.CO;2 Tinker, M. T. , D. P. Costa , J. A. Estes , and N. Wieringa . 2007. Individual dietary specialization and dive behaviour in the California sea otter: using archival time–depth data to detect alternative foraging strategies. Deep Sea Research II 54: 330–342,

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date June 1, 2023
Metadata Updated Date October 28, 2023

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI EDI

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date June 1, 2023
Metadata Updated Date October 28, 2023
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Identifier USGS:5d853e50e4b0c4f70d086f03
Data Last Modified 20200830
Category geospatial
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 010:12
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id 4fcc7654-fb5b-41db-8856-dc6b7db42a48
Harvest Source Id 52bfcc16-6e15-478f-809a-b1bc76f1aeda
Harvest Source Title DOI EDI
Metadata Type geospatial
Old Spatial -122.4232,34.3902,-120.2678,37.201
Publisher Hierarchy White House > U.S. Department of the Interior > U.S. Geological Survey
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 679c1217b6c6bee7dc0dc9ca3c7cc72436eb6a5aac62cc3789c62e570b6a9708
Source Schema Version 1.1
Spatial {"type": "Polygon", "coordinates": -122.4232, 34.3902, -122.4232, 37.201, -120.2678, 37.201, -120.2678, 34.3902, -122.4232, 34.3902}

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