An Otter's Contributions (1 Letter)

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To the Editor:

"In Nature, Fatal Attractions Can Be Part of Life" (Nov. 27) suggests that some biologists, including me, refused to comment on the sexual proclivities of Morgan the sea otter out of fear of sensationalizing behaviors that routinely occur in nature -- including humans, I might add. In truth, I refused an interview because the article would distort the life, and hence reduce the dignity, of this animal.

By focusing on one chapter of his life, the article misses the point that even in nature, sexual escapades are often contextual and short-lived. Ultimately, Morgan spent nine years helping our team discover the physiological vulnerabilities underlying wild sea otter declines in California. Clearly, if human social outcasts can be rehabilitated, so can sea otters.

Terrie M. Williams

Santa Cruz, Calif.

The writer is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

science

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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