What many Americans consider to be a cute, back-floating mammal is a pest, even a thief, to some Southeast Alaskan fishermen.

Humans and sea otters enjoy consuming the same bottom-dwelling seafood: Dungeness crabs, clams, sea cucumbers and urchins. Competition between dive fishermen and sea otters for those resources has intensified as the otter population grows.

Wadley has been a commercial sea cucumber diver for 27 years. She dove for abalone until the dive fishery closed in 1996.

“We had an abalone fishery here until the otters ate us out of it,” she said. “And then I switched about the time that the abalone fishery was dying, the sea cucumbers started up.”

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