Program Description: The objective of this project is to document local and traditional knowledge about sea otters and their environment through interviews with locals identified by the tribe whom are knowledgeable about sea otters. Interviews are intended to document local observations and statements about current and historical knowledge on various aspects of biology, traditional use and cultural relevance of sea otters. The information collected through the interviews will be compiled in an attempt to increase the knowledge and understanding of sea otter populations of the Kodiak Archipelago, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. These areas are of particular importance to this project because it represents areas within the range of the Southwest Alaska distinct population segment of the northern sea otter listed as threatened by the USFWS in 2005. This project postulates that community members who reside in the areas year-round would have some insight on what has been happening to the sea otters in their local waters.
History: This project has its roots in a joint 1997 project between TASSC, the USFWS and the Sitka Marine Mammal Commission. Together, we worked to document sea otter recolonization in Southeast Alaska following their reintroduction in the sixties. In 2003, this project was developed to document knowledge on sea otters in 3 coastal Alaskan communities, through interviews and/or surveys of residents.