Founded in 1968 by pioneering environmentalist Margaret Owings of Big Sur, Friends of the Sea Otter has played a lead role in bringing the southern sea otter back from the brink of extinction. For more than 50 years, they worked tirelessly to ensure that sea otters are properly protected under federal and state law. Their conservation legacy is truly remarkable.

More and more, however, the issues associated with sea otter conservation have merged into broader environmental concerns, such as ecosystem-wide changes in food sources and issues including climate change, ocean noise and coastal pollution. Friends of the Sea Otter felt that these are issues that a national organization, like ours, would be best equipped to handle. On August 11, 2020, Friends of the Sea Otter merged with Defenders of Wildlife after closing their operations. 

Defenders has worked alongside Friends of the Sea Otter for decades and we are proud to carry their work forward. As part of this transition, we will expand our federal advocacy for otters under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act and through state environmental laws, such as the California Endangered Species Act. Defenders will also continue Friends of the Sea Otter’s state and local education, outreach and sea otter awareness efforts.