SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif -

Tax season is in full swing and there is a fund for furry friends of the sea, sea otters, that is in jeopardy.  

The sea otter population has been stagnant over the past decade and more recently its mortality rate has increased.

"Two of the largest components of mortality are related to wounds from shark bites, which is very high in this area, but also infectious diseases," said Mike Harris, an environmental scientist.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife uses money that comes through a tax deductible donation to help investigate those causes.

"Following them daily, looking at reproductive success, movement, activity budgets," said Harris. "We're able to make a link between maybe how otters are using specific habitat and what the risk is associated with the use of those habitats."

This year the Department of Fish and Wildlife will not allow money from the fund to be used towards advertising the need for money for the sea otter fund, despite the fact that it still needs to reach a goal of more than $277,000.

"These funds have been very critical in helping us understand sources of mortality and to try to figure out ways we might be able to mitigate those sources, and therefore help the sea otter population recover," said Harris.

The fund has been on tax forms since 2007, and the department worries if it does not reach its goal this year it could come to an end.

To make a tax deductible donation to the sea otter tax fund or the rare and endangered species fund you can check the box on your tax form.