With only 3,000 southern sea otters left in the wild, these charming, furry clam crackers could go the way of the dodo. But a new study reveals that, should they be reintroduced into the San Francisco Bay, their numbers could triple. The problem? Great white sharks.

Sea otters aren't only the largest species of otter by sheer mass, only second in length to the Amazon’s giant river otter, but, arguably, they're one of the most recognizable marine mammals. However, California’s southern sea otter — which is a sub-species of giant sea otters, endemic to only our slice of the Pacific — is in danger of going extinct. Per KPIX, a recent study conducted by Sonoma State University, led by marine biologist Brent Hughes, shows that successfully bringing them back into the SF Bay might better their numbers.

“[A successful reintroduction] would essentially end up lifting the sea otter out of its endangered species status,” said Hughes in a press release for the study, the research published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ — the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences earlier this month. “For the conservation of the sea otter, this would be huge.”

The study dictates that the San Francisco Bay, itself — fun fact: it’s also our state’s largest estuarine system — could support upwards of 6,600 otters alone, a figure double that of current population counts. (Should other environmental factors in the bay improve further, i.e. denser, healthier kelp forests and an increased abundance of shellfish, that hypothesized estimate could be even larger.)