River otter demography study: a citizen science project

otters on the bank of a river Close up of an otter

RIVER OTTER NETWORK: We are interested in describing the distribution and demography of otters on the coasts, wetlands and watersheds in Humboldt, Del Norte and adjacent counties. The river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a key bio-indicator of the health of our environment as they sit at the top of this water-based food chain. Unlike most otter habitats around the world, it is thought that the Pacific north coast still supports a thriving otter population. The initial goals of the study are:

  • Establish a network of otter observers among wildlife agencies, and enthusiasts
  • Assess spatial and temporal variation in otter distribution
  • Assess spatial and temporal variation in pup production
  • Conduct observational studies on otter foraging
  • Conduct diet assessments
  • Assess home range and site faithfulness of individuals

With a bit of persistence keen HSU student observers may enjoy hours of first hand experience watching otters and detecting signs of their activities. You can join the River Otter Network of observers. There are at least six otter groups living in habitats just a short drive from campus. You may even observe our river otters in lagoons, bays and harbors; true sea otters do not occur in this region. Wildlife Techniques (WLDF 311) students are encouraged to search for otters and to enter sightings via the Otter Records page.


River Otters: Keeping Up with Mom

Otter looking at the camera Group of otters on the river bank an otter in the water


river otter poster otter poster otter poster

a single otter popping his head out of the water with a fish in his mouth an otter propped on the side of the river bank Otter mama and her babies on the side of the river