24 in HIGH x 36 in WIDE
(60.96 cm HIGH x 91.44 cm WIDE)
Gift of State Beaches and Parks

Sea Otter. Description: dressed. From the History Information Station Object: Dressed pelt of a sea otter (Enhydra lutris). History: Sea otters, the smallest of the marine mammals, once ranged from Japan to the Aleutian chain, and down the Pacific Coast to Baja California. Unfortunately, their lustrous coats attracted the unwanted attention of the Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and American fur traders who hunted along the coast of California. The popularity of the pelt led to an unchecked slaughter of sea otters and their virtual disappearance from the North American coast. Legislation protecting the otter was passed by California as early as 1913. In 1938, a large herd of otters was discovered off the Monterey coast. In 1972, the federal government passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act making it illegal to "harass, hunt, capture or kill" any marine mammal and banned the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products. Gift of California State Beaches and Parks Fields of Furs A great trading industry took root in the Pacific Ocean in the second half of the 18th century, and the seed was the high exchange value of sea otter fur in the markets of China. Spanish California, with its rich otter grounds, became the scene of an organized otter trade with China. Although Spain forbade trade with foreigners, daring Yankee hunters moved into the waters off Alta California. They took great risk bartering with the local contrabandistas. However, when Alta California came under Mexican rule in 1822, California's ports opened to foreign hunters. By 1830, the products of California were not only being exported to China, but to the United States and other foreign countries as well. The sea-otter trade marked the opening of the Pacific Ocean in the 18th and early 19th centuries and brought the first Americans to the Pacific and to California. It helped to build a resident American population who, along with the merchants on the east coast, turned the eyes of the American government toward the rich land that was to become its 31st state.

Used: Spanish/Mexican Period

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