Threatened: The Controversial Struggle
of the Southern Sea Otter
Threatened: The Struggle of the Southern Sea Otter
Threatened: The Struggle of the Southern Sea Otter
Item#: TND-812
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Running Time: 41 minutes
Grades 7 - Adult
Scene Selection • Closed Captioned
A Film by Bill Wisneski, Palomar College Television



Starred Review. Insightful...An excellent film for environmental science, ecology, and marine biology classes. Beautiful footage of the coastal region of Southern California and the marine environment—and the otters in it—complement the balanced presentation of information.”
–School Library Journal

Recommended. This is a well-organized, easy-to-understand presentation of a case study which is well understood and captures the complexity of environmental management and restoration.”
– Science Books and Films

“An extraordinary job accurately conveying the complex and multi-faceted challenges that continually threaten our coast’s sensitive California sea otter population. Students will learn how human populations and the unique biology of marine mammals both shape and constrain the controversial conservation efforts to save this adorable species."
-Lesley Williams, Professor of Biology, Palomar College

“This has to rank as one of the best, if not the best documentary out on Southern Sea Otters.”
-Jim Curland, Friends of the Sea Otter

“This is a great piece, by far the most professional and comprehensive on the issue.”
-Brian Segee, Staff Attorney, Environmental Defense Center (Santa Barbara)

“What a beautiful job you did! I am impressed. I also appreciated your focus on water quality issues.”
-Lilian Carswell, U.S.Fish & Wildlife, Southern Sea Otter Recovery & Marine Conservation Coordinator

“I want to personally commend you and your Threatened team for producing such an outstanding documentary... it was as good as they get!”
-Ronald Shattuck, Co-Festival Director, Fallbrook Film Festival


Five Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards

Silver Telly Award Winner

Best Education Documentary, Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, New York

Best Documentary, Los Angeles Reel Film Festival

Best Short Documentary, Oceanside International Film Festival

Audience Award for Best Short Film, Big Bear Lake International Film Festival


American Documentary Film Festival
Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Oceanside International Film Festival
Awareness Festival
Davis Film Festival
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, New York
Catalina Island Film Festival
Big Bear International Film Festival




All prices include DVD and Limited PPR

• K-12 Schools, Public Libraries & Community Groups: $59
• Colleges, Government, Businesses: $159
• Colleges, Government, Businesses (with DSL): $459


Southern Sea Otters are once again in peril, after having being brought back from the brink of extinction. Threatened investigates the history and potential causes for the otter’s decline, as well as the controversy over how best to protect the otter population.

An unprecedented number of sea otter deaths have occurred along the California coast in the last few years. Like crime scene detectives, a team of scientists is anxiously searching for the causes of the mysterious deaths.

But not everyone believes in the value of supporting a thriving sea otter population. Otters are at the center of a bitter controversy regarding the Fish & Wildlife Services decision to eliminate their "No Otter Zone" from Southern California waters. For 25 years, this imaginary line in the ocean was designed to protect the interests of the commercial shellfish industry and its removal has angered fishermen.

As Threatened shows, the plight of sea otters has far reaching implications. If otters are struggling, it's an indication of larger ecological concerns, concerns that also have a direct impact on humans. For a fragile species threatened by pollution, infectious diseases, starvation, and competition with fishermen, this is a crucial time for the Southern Sea Otter as they struggle for survival.