Sea Otter Awareness Week

From being hunted to near extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries, to being threatened by oil spills in the 1980s, sea otters have endured many threats to their survival. Sea Otter Awareness Week (the fourth week in September) is a time to recognize this keystone species and highlight the important role they play in maintaining balance in the ecosystem.

Use the links below to learn basic facts about these marine mammals, including the biggest threats to their survival and how you can help protect them.

Sea Otter, © Penny Palmer

Learn about Sea Otters

Sea otter, © Douglas Childs

Threats to Sea Otters

Sea otters, © Tony Trupp

How You Can Help


Teach: Sea Otter Educational Materials

Are you a teacher or youth group leader looking to explore sea otter biology and conservation with your class? Defenders of Wildlife has a variety of educational materials to help you teach the next generation of wildlife conservationists about these important marine mammals, including a full downloadable curriculum for grades 6-8, and a trunk of teaching aids. 


Contribute: California Sea Otter Fund

The California Sea Otter Fund allows residents to donate part of their income tax refund toward research that benefits the recovering sea otter population. These donations make it possible for scientists to monitor sea otter mortality and improve near-ocean habitats for sea otters. Defenders of Wildlife worked with California lawmakers to pass the legislation to establish this fund, and so far it has contributed to this vital research for seven years.


Celebrate: Sea Otter Success Stories

Defenders of Wildlife works tirelessly to protect sea otters and the marine habitats they rely on for survival. From eliminating a “no otter zone” created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to helping establish sea otter conservation projects, we continue to fight for these animals that play such an important role in marine ecosystems.

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Manatees, © Jan Reyniers
Learn More
As manatees search for the warm-water shelters once common along the Florida coast, we take this time to raise public awareness of the threats to these beloved but endangered sea creatures.
Success Stories
October, 2013 - Thanks to extensive outreach and advocacy from Defenders and our partners, CA Governor Brown has signed historic legislation into law that requires the use of non-lead ammunition in hunting.
Success Stories
September, 2013 - How would trained responders go about getting polar bears clean and healthy if an oil spill were to happen in the Arctic? We worked with local partners to create tools to do just that.