Sea otters are interspecific rapists. You’ve all seen those pictures of the cute sea otters holding hands? Talk about taking a photo out of context. Yes, they do link with one another in what is called a raft to keep from floating out to open sea. Yes, it makes for a great postcard or hipster meme. What many fail to understand is, these rafts consist primarily of male sea otters. Yup, dudes holding hands off the coast of Monterey. Not that it freaks me out or anything. Nope, nothing like that at all. But You haven’t heard the worst of it yet. My academia escapes me, so I’ll make this short and informal. 
Sea otters are rapists. When they mate, male sea otters often bite down on the nose (muzzle) of the female to exact dominance over their mate. Male sea otters are polygynous; having more than one female partner (this is very common in nature, but to added effect of what happens next). Often during copulation, male sea otters will submerge the females head underwater, to the point of near suffocation. Field research yielded an estimate of 11% of southern sea otter deaths are attributed to this masochistic style of mating. Surviving females can be identified as having recently mated by the superficial scarring left behind by the males. 
Now, that’s just the basics of intraspecific sea otter reproduction, at least the social mechanisms anyway. Here’s where we get to the interspecific portion of this blurb. Sea otters have been known to forcefully mate with pup sea lions. Oh ya, interspecies action. The article I linked at the bottom gives a pretty good play by play and elaboration of it, but I’ll cite a few cliff notes. 
1. Sea otter aggressively attempts copulation with sea lion pup and succeeds 
2. *spoiler* Sea lion pup dies
3. Sea otter finishes his ‘interspecific interaction,’ then goes back to grooming
4. This has been documented on other occasions as well, with some sea otters copulating with the dead corpse of a sea lion long after the victim has died. 
5. Damn nature, you scary!
For the record, I don’t think this is cool. Ok, yeah, I think this is totally cool. Hell, I think animals are freaking maniacs. I, just like any other scientist, enjoy learning new things. Even if they are a little off putting. 
Links (This is the most forthcoming article I could find. There are others, but they escape me at the moment. Just like sleep)
http://news.discovery.com/animals/the-other-side-of-otters.html

Sea otters are interspecific rapists. You’ve all seen those pictures of the cute sea otters holding hands? Talk about taking a photo out of context. Yes, they do link with one another in what is called a raft to keep from floating out to open sea. Yes, it makes for a great postcard or hipster meme. What many fail to understand is, these rafts consist primarily of male sea otters. Yup, dudes holding hands off the coast of Monterey. Not that it freaks me out or anything. Nope, nothing like that at all. But You haven’t heard the worst of it yet. My academia escapes me, so I’ll make this short and informal. 

Sea otters are rapists. When they mate, male sea otters often bite down on the nose (muzzle) of the female to exact dominance over their mate. Male sea otters are polygynous; having more than one female partner (this is very common in nature, but to added effect of what happens next). Often during copulation, male sea otters will submerge the females head underwater, to the point of near suffocation. Field research yielded an estimate of 11% of southern sea otter deaths are attributed to this masochistic style of mating. Surviving females can be identified as having recently mated by the superficial scarring left behind by the males. 

Now, that’s just the basics of intraspecific sea otter reproduction, at least the social mechanisms anyway. Here’s where we get to the interspecific portion of this blurb. Sea otters have been known to forcefully mate with pup sea lions. Oh ya, interspecies action. The article I linked at the bottom gives a pretty good play by play and elaboration of it, but I’ll cite a few cliff notes. 

1. Sea otter aggressively attempts copulation with sea lion pup and succeeds 

2. *spoiler* Sea lion pup dies

3. Sea otter finishes his ‘interspecific interaction,’ then goes back to grooming

4. This has been documented on other occasions as well, with some sea otters copulating with the dead corpse of a sea lion long after the victim has died. 

5. Damn nature, you scary!

For the record, I don’t think this is cool. Ok, yeah, I think this is totally cool. Hell, I think animals are freaking maniacs. I, just like any other scientist, enjoy learning new things. Even if they are a little off putting. 

Links (This is the most forthcoming article I could find. There are others, but they escape me at the moment. Just like sleep)

http://news.discovery.com/animals/the-other-side-of-otters.html

// Technology and Contiuning Biodiversity//

I posted a short blurb over at our Ecology blog, decided to share it here as well. Reconciliation Ecology is pretty cool. It’ll get you granola bitches for sure. Anyway, enjoy.

          Over the course of several decades, human technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, exponentially reoccurring, evolving, and exhibiting life-like qualities. This entanglement of codependency has reshaped the natural occurring landscape against formidable odds. The ability to change and manipulate the native environment into appealing settings not commonplace against the surrounding terrain has been the signature of mankind for the near entirety of his existence. This interdiction with the natural ecosystem, and inevitable biosphere manipulation, has been the direct cause of many recent mass extinctions. As technology grows and becomes all encompassing, so does the decline and extinction of many organisms and ecosystems due to our growing technological niche. The interaction of advancing technologies with the natural environment is a delicate balance between artificial incentive, and environmental cohesion. Maintaining biodiversity in cadence with a resilient ecosystem, while also seeing to our industrial and technological needs, is a practice only recently coming to the forefront of modern civilization.

            In the subsequent period following the industrial revolution, technology has played a pivotal role in advancing the human lifestyle. Conversely, it is also the vessel that arrests the balance of an ecosystem adapted from eons of existence. Bio-waste, as a result of technological manufacturing, has introduced foreign materials into an environment not able to sustain the sudden influx of extrinsic, non-naturally occurring factors. The result in many cases is the loss of locale landscapes, and the endangering or extinction of the organisms that inhabit them. This problem as a whole encompasses the growing concern of the loss of biodiversity near mass human population areas. Advocating a sudden cease and relocate to industrial complexes threatening the local habitat poses problems that are more than just economic. Mankind has adapted itself into a technologically driven niche. The heart of human adaptation is the need to cultivate innovation. Therefore, the solution lies within that want to make use of our technological prowess to act in concert with the surrounding environment and bring back biodiversity to the areas affected by our own technological growth.

            The rapidly growing human population increases the need to further develop methods that make use of technology as a way for humans to comfortably coexist against a functioning, undisturbed ecosystem. Overpopulation and extreme population density often amount to significant problems with concern to the surrounding environmental ecosystems. The point at which mankind has grown densely enough as to implant itself amongst delicate ecosystems, threatens what organisms are left that inhabit those very same regions, leading to a further decline of biodiversity. Many researchers theorize and calculate the relative carrying capacity of the human population using factors involving environmental impact, affluence, and technology, but I propose that the maximum carrying capacity will reach its point when technology is at its highest, and biodiversity is at its lowest. The loss of the natural landscape, replaced by artificial substitution will serve as a signal to the decline of the biosphere. This of course being a proposed extreme scenario.

            At any rate, continually diversifying technological advancements, in concert with the growing human population, coinciding with the lack of responsibility towards ecological stability, amounts to an enduring push and pull between technology and the safety of the immediate ecosystem. The need to extend efforts towards using technology to protect biodiversity is tantamount to ensuring a lasting biosphere. Ecology is a broad field, one the areas of interests is the study of how people interact with their environment. Mankind has had the most significant effect on shaping the biosphere than any other one organism. It should make sense, then, that he be the one to insure its future survival. 

Light bulbs from these places:

http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2001/winter_environment_and.aspx

http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=82076e41-d13e-488c-92e4-eaea43c7cdba%40sessionmgr104&vid=1&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=66779601

http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=a3646f63-5e94-4c39-950a-4fd1b47c3060%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=56613986

I'm an unpaid photographer living on borrowed time. Sometimes I write, but it never gets paid for.