The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Sep 12, 2012
 

Hungry sea otters help keep oceans healthy: Study

 
 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (REUTERS) - Sea otters are warding off the accumulation of acidic carbon dioxide in Alaska's waters by preying on sea urchins that feed on underwater kelp beds vital to the oceans' health, according to a study.

Otter-protected kelp beds absorb about 12 times as much carbon dioxide during photosynthesis as thinned-out kelp beds, according to a study published in the September issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide threatens marine environments because the gas, when absorbed into the ocean, increases acidity levels, causing the phenomenon known as "ocean acidification", according to scientists.

So by devouring sea urchins, otters allow the kelp to grow and keep the oceans cleaner.