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D. How to Outsmart an Otter

Narrator: This is Science Today. If there's ever a big oil spill off the northern California coast, animals and birds there might have a fighting chance thanks to a new oiled animal research station at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The station will specialize in otters, and marine scientist Steve Davenport says, of course, it's better not to let them get oiled in the first place.

Davenport: One strategy is to remove as many animals as possible from the path of the spill before they get oiled.

Narrator: But otters are smart, and rounding them up isn't easy.

Davenport: Once a particular sea otter, an individual, has been caught, it knows what's up and it's very difficult to catch a second time.

Narrator: Fortunately, there are ways to outsmart them.

Davenport: Scuba divers are used, who use rebreather units which don't emit bubbles when the diver breathes. So a diver can go to the bottom, cruise along the bottom and come up under an otter with a conical net and catch the otter at the surface from underneath without tipping the otter off to his presence by breathing bubbles.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar