Sea Otter Awareness Week

September 20-26, 2020

Annually, throughout the last week of September, we celebrate sea otters during Sea Otter Awareness Week. We encourage zoological and educational institutions, governmental agencies and communities to plan and undertake events that highlight sea otters. These activities include sharing stories, disseminating science and generating media that inspire a deeper awareness of these unique marine mammals, their ecological importance and the many challenges they face.

Sea otter awareness week 2020 logo sea otter with bridge

This year's theme is: Bridging the Gaps.

This year’s theme signifies the breaches that exist in our knowledge of how to keep marine ecosystems whole and resilient and how to protect vulnerable species. The single-arch bridge, which stands as a hallmark of keystone construction, symbolizes the critical role that sea otters play in maintaining strength, diversity, and productivity of vital nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests and estuaries. The sea otter’s apex predator role completes a trophic system that otherwise tends to collapse when they are absent. The logo should remind us of the geographical gap that still exists between northern and southern sea otters. But just like the Bixby Creek Bridge permitted the expansion of the coastal highway north and south, conserving contiguous stretches of healthy habitat would allow sea otters to reoccupy areas of their historical range. Thus, the more we realize the impact we have on wild systems, the more we can start bridging the gaps between causing harm to wildlife and creating true coexistence. Perhaps the example of sea otters can connect us to innovative ways of pondering the natural world, moving us from dominion and over-consumption to sustainability, from disrespect and ignorance to preservation.

The evocative logo for this year’s Sea Otter Awareness Week, designed by Heather Barrett, presents a kelp-wrapped sea otter resting in waters near the bridge at Bixby Creek, along California’s Big Sur coast. At that spot, a few dozen sea otters defied human efforts to exterminate their entire species.

This week is organized and sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife, Sea Otter Savvy and California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Online Events

Science Sunday: "Sharing Space with Sea Otters"

When: September 20, 2020 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm PDT

Host: Sea Otter Savvy

Please join Gena Bentall to learn why sea otters matter, why sea otters need protection, and how recreational activities such as kayaking, scuba diving, photography or walking on the beach can impact them.

Click to register.

Lunch with a Sea Otter

When: September 21, 2020 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PDT

Host: Lawrence Hall of Science

Tune in to the Lawrence Hall of Science’s livestream via Youtube and Facebook to see the wild sea otters of Morro Bay and build a sea otter with guidance from a Sea Otter Savvy biologist and a Morro Bay State Parks interpreter.

Tune in here!

 

Marine Mammal Monday: "Sea Otter Spectacular"

When: September 21, 2020 4:00 pm to 4:35 pm PDT

Host: The Marine Mammal Center (Sausalito)

Learn more about sea otters, rehabilitation and Yankee Doodle, a sea otter rescued by The Marine Mammal Center. He’s proof that this resilient species could once again populate San Francisco Bay and the entire California coast.

Tune in here.

“Counting Sea Otters: In the Field During the Sea Otter Census”

When: September 22, 2020 11:00 am to 11:30 am PDT

Host: Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Watch a live 20-minute conversation with Joseph Tomoleoni, Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey, to understand why a sea otter census is important, what it’s like in the field during a census, and the implications the census reveals on sea otter population recovery and conservation.

Tune in here. 

Campus Club Series: "What, Where and Why Is A Sea Otter?"

When: September 22, 2020 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm PDT

Host: Defenders of Wildlife

Join Andy Johnson, Katy Bear Nalven and Sristi Kamal to learn what Defenders of Wildlife is doing to protect sea otters in this interactive webinar.

Click to register.

“SR3: SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation & Research”

When: September 22, 2020 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm PDT

Host: Sea Otter Foundation & Trust

Join Sea Otter Foundation & Trust for a behind the scenes interview with Casey Mclean, Executive Director of SR3: SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation & Research. Casey talks about the difficulties in responding to marine mammals, including sea otters, along the rugged Washington coast and takes us on a virtual tour of the facility.

Tune in here!

Livestream: Float Down the Coast with Sea Otters

When: September 23, 2020 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PDT

Host: California State Parks

Join our live virtual event as we float down the California coast, visiting critical sea otter habitats and areas of interest. Learn about the historical and current sea otter range, how this species benefits nearshore communities and perhaps get a chance to see wild sea otters live from the safety and comfort of home! 

Tune in here.

 

“Oregon’s Kelp Ecosystem & Sea Otters”

When: September 23, 2020 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PDT

Host: Elakha Alliance and Environment Oregon

Join the Elakha Alliance and Environment Oregon in a discussion about the status of the kelp ecosystem in Oregon, including conservation issues and policy considerations. We will discuss how a possible sea otter reintroduction may play a foundational role in the restoration of this key ecosystem. 

Click to register.

"Otter Stories & Research in Elkhorn Slough"

When: September 23rd, 2020 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm PDT

Host: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

What is up with the otters at Elkhorn Slough? Did the harbor dredging disturb the otter rafts in the north harbor and at Seal Bend? What is the impact on the otters of increased human presence? Ron Eby will answer these questions and present what volunteers from Elkhorn Slough have learned from over a decade of monitoring the otters at Elkhorn Slough.

Click to register.

“Labside Chat with Sarah McKay Strobel”

When: September 24, 2020 11:00 am to 12:00 pm PDT

Host: Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Tune in for an exclusive Sea Otter Awareness Week Labside Chat to explore how sea otters navigate the underwater world with Sarah McKay Strobel, Ph.D., from the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz.

Tune in here.

“The Man Behind the Ottercams”

When: September 24, 2020 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PDT

Host: Sea Otter Foundation & Trust

Ever wondered what it’s like to drive a virtual camera? Well, look no further! Here’s your chance to see what it’s like to drive Elkhorn Slough Foundation’s Ottercams. Ron Eby joins Sea Otter Foundation & Trust for a discussion and demonstration of managing the Ottercams to witness endearing sea otter behavior.

Tune in here!

NightSchool Series: “Sea Otters & the Bay”

When: September 24, 2020 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm PDT

Host: California Academy of Sciences

This NightSchool event features your favorite fluffy-furred tool-using, urchin-eating marine mammal endemic to the Pacific Coast. Peek into the Academy’s Mammalogy collections and learn how researchers use scientific collections to study sea otters with collections manager Moe Flannery. Learn about the history, biology, behavior and ecology of the southern sea otter in California and its possible return to the Bay Area with Sea Otter Savvy advisors Lilian Carswell (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Andy Johnson (Defenders of Wildlife).

Tune in here!

“How Do Sea Otters Keep Warm?”

When: September 25, 2020 11:00 am to 12:00 pm PDT

Host: Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Follow along with this LIVE at-home DIY experiment to discover how sea otters keep warm in chilly ocean waters. Learn why sea otters are unique and how their insulation method compares with other mammals such as seals, sea lions and humans—then try the experiment out for yourself!

Check out the list of materials you'll need and tune in here.

"Live Chat with a Sea Otter Aquarist!"

When: September 25, 2020 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm PDT

Host: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to take care of sea otters? Join us for a live chat with Christine DeAngelo, the Aquarium’s Curator of Mammals/Registrar, to hear some otterly pawesome stories!

Tune in on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Twitch or YouTube.

 

“Are Sea Otters Ghosts of Estuaries Past?”

When: September 25, 2020 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm PDT

Host: Point Reyes National Seashore Association

Don’t miss Dr. Brent Hughes’ look into what may be missing from Northern California estuaries: sea otters! Recent discoveries have fundamentally changed our understanding of sea otter biology and ecology and present new opportunities to promote their recovery. 

Register here.

All Week, Check Out These Sea Otter Cams!