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California State Legislature Unanimously Approves Sea Otter Awareness Week

August 8, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The California State Legislature unanimously approved a resolution officially proclaiming the last week in September as Sea Otter Awareness Week throughout California.

“Sea Otter Awareness Week is about informing people of the threats that sea otters still face every day and about what concerned citizens can do to help sea otters make a thriving comeback,” said Jim Curland, marine program associate for Defenders of Wildlife. “Education is the first step in transforming people’s affection for sea otters into actions that can make a difference in saving the marine environment that sea otters call home.”

State Sen. Abel Maldonado authored the resolution and spearheaded this initiative as a way to recognize Sea Otter Awareness Week and its importance to sea otter conservation. The formal designation also underscores the important role that Californians play in helping recover the endangered southern sea otter.

“As the senator who represents one-third of the California coast, the preservation of our diverse ecosystem has always been one of my top priorities. It has been my honor to author this important resolution, which reminds people of the vital role sea otters play in our coastal environment,” said Sen. Maldonado. “I am pleased that my legislative colleagues recognized the importance of this resolution and I look forward to celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week.”

Highlights for this year’s Sea Otter Awareness Week will include exciting events such as a series of free educational presentations, lectures and special showings of the film, “Precipice of Survival: The Southern Sea Otter,” produced by the U.S. Geological Survey. Aquariums and zoos throughout North America will participate in educational activities to celebrate the sea otter’s role in the coastal marine ecosystem. Activities will take place on Sept. 21-27, 2008 in the Monterey Bay area, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and as far away as Homer, Alaska.

This year’s sixth annual celebration of Sea Otter Awareness Week promises to reach even more people than ever. Elected officials from cities throughout California, and for the first time ever, mayors from cities across the country and in Canada, including Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, and Victoria, British Columbia, have also officially proclaimed Sea Otter Awareness Week.

But in no other state have sea otters succeeded in capturing the hearts of residents as they have in California. So far this year, state taxpayers have generously donated $253,350, thanks to a voluntary check-off on state tax returns. The fund has already met the minimum amount needed to remain on the state income-tax form and is on track to surpass last year’s contributions of $255,000.

Defenders of Wildlife partnered with marine conservationist Philippe Cousteau to promote the voluntary check-off for the fund. California taxpayers have contributed more than a half a million dollars in less than two years to help recover the sea otter.

“The thing that makes this accomplishment so impressive is that it comes at a time when many of us have to cut back on unnecessary expenses,” said Curland. “I can’t imagine a more wonderful display of our commitment to sea otter conservation and our willingness to invest in the future of one of the most beloved creatures in California.”

Defenders of Wildlife is joined in this year’s Sea Otter Awareness Week celebration by Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Monterey Bay area schools, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Coyote Point Museum, Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Ty Warner Sea Center, Channel Islands National Park, various other participants, and more than a dozen aquariums and zoos in North America.

Sea Otter Awareness Week is made possible, in part, by a grant through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and proudly sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife, New Leaf Community Markets, Kayak Connection, Aqua Safaris SCUBA Center, EcoGoods, Monterey Bay Kayaks, Monterey County Weekly, and other businesses.

To find out how you can participate in Sea Otter Awareness Week and to view the week’s activities, go to HYPERLINK “http://www.defenders.org/seaotter/awareness/” http://www.defenders.org/seaotter/awareness/

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than one million members and activists, more than 210,000 of which are in California, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit http://www.defenders.org/ and http://www.saveseaotters.org/.

Defenders of Wildlife

CONTACT: Jim Curland, +1-831-726-9010, or Joe Vickless, +1-202-772-0237,both of the Defenders of Wildlife

Web Site: http://www.defenders.org/




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