Very little is known and/or published regarding the ecology and current status of river otters (Lontra canadensis) in Central and Northern California. Our project strives to fill this gap in understanding about the status, range, reproduction, diet and general ecology of the species in coastal watersheds of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our partners on this initiative include the US National Park Service (Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore), San Francisco State University's Genomics & Transcriptomics Analysis Core, California State Parks, Mt. View Sanitary District, Las Gallinas Sanitary District, Marin Municipal Water District, Star Academy and The Marine Mammal Center.
We utilize remote camera stations positioned along a 100+-mile stretch of waterways at study locations north of the Golden Gate. We bicycle, hike and kayak to our study sites. These cameras document the elusive otters - including family groups and young. We gather otter scat and "jelly," an intestinal secretion for genetic analysis to discover population numbers, sex ratios, family relationships and otter ranges.
Volunteer scientists work hard to gather data weekly at each site. We use the data gathered to inform wetland restoration and watershed conservation decisions.
Read our PUBLICATION in Northwestern Naturalist, the Journal of the Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology.
Check out our OTTER SPOTTER Citizen Science Project and discover ways you can help put otters on the map in the Bay Area!