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 Genetics & Transcriptomics Analysis Core, California State Parks and The Marine Mammal Center.
We utilize remote camera stations positioned along an 100+-mile stretch of coastline and streams 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, and we sure have a lot of fun doing it!
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!