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Keywords:

  • Enhydra lutris;
  • sea otters;
  • Prince William Sound;
  • Alaska;
  • T/V Exxon Valdez;
  • oil spill;
  • body condition;
  • body mass;
  • total body length

Abstract

After the 1989 T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), the body condition of non-pregnant female sea otters (Enhydra lutris) ages 4 yr and older in the EVOS-affected region of western Prince William Sound, Alaska (WPWS), was significantly poorer than that of individuals captured in the same or adjacent habitat in WPWS approximately a decade earlier, and than that of individuals inhabiting unoiled habitat in eastern PWS (EPWS) between 1984 and 1990. However, the body condition of females of this age category captured in WPWS prior to EVOS was not significantly different from that of pre-and postspill EPWS females. The mean total body length (TBL) of non-pregnant females captured prespill in WPWS was significantly less than that of pre-and postspill EPWS and postspill WPWS females. Evidence from this and other studies suggests that the body condition of at least some classes of sea otters was negatively affected by one or more EVOS-related factors.