We design our Earthwatch Teen Expeditions specifically and exclusively for 15- to 18-year-olds. They’re unlike any other experience a teenager can have.
Alaska: The land of the midnight sun and the last frontier. Experience the real Alaska as few others get the chance to do, exploring the natural wonders of Prince of Wales Island in the southeast as you study and help to conserve a top marine predator—sea otters.
Between the mid-1770s and 1900, sea otters were hunted to near extinction for their fine, dense, and highly valuable fur. In the 1960s, these animals were reintroduced in Southeast Alaska, and their population has since grown from roughly 400 to more than 25,000.
Sea otters make their home in seagrass—underwater meadows consisting of flowering, grass-like plants. This habitat is commonly found in shallow coastal areas around the world and plays an important role within the ecosystem: seagrass enhances water quality, filters nutrients, and even absorbs carbon from the atmosphere—crucial aspects of maintaining a stable and healthy habitat.
Unfortunately, seagrass meadows are disappearing worldwide due to climate change, runoff from farms, and invasive species. But there is evidence suggesting sea otters play a role in maintaining the health of seagrasses, although it is not known exactly what that role is in Southeast Alaska. Join scientists working to understand the impact of this species on seagrass meadows to better conserve sea otters and their critical habitat.