Seattle Aquarium Sea Otter Conservation Program


Earlier this month the Seattle Aquarium was pleased to host 15 leading sea otter scientists to assess three years of Pacific Coast field research regarding sea otter population trends – part of the largest single study of sea otter populations and their environments ever attempted. The project is led by James L. Bodkin, who recently received the Seattle Aquarium Research Award.

The group of ecologists, marine biologists, veterinarians, geologists, hydrologists and statisticians met to refine plans for further data analysis and collaboration to develop major findings and implications for sea otter survival and public policy. The data is expected to provide the basis for many years of further analytical effort.

The Seattle Aquarium has focused actively on sea otters in its collection, exhibitry, education programs and research since opening in 1977. Seattle Aquarium Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson, Ph.D., is a member of the Bodkin research team; Director of Life Sciences ; C.J. Casson maintains the Sea Otter Studbook for the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, (AZA); and Curator of Mammals and Birds Traci Belting serves on the board of International Marine Animal Trainers' Association (IMATA). We are currently expanding our sea otter educational/interpretive messaging and bringing greater focus to our important research. We recently installed interpretive panels providing, for the first time, a comprehensive explanation of the Aquarium's sea otter programs and their importance to sea otters in the wild. We invite you to take a look during your next visit!


Seattle Aquarium Sea Otter Conservation Program

Throughout our 35-year history, we have focused on sea otter research, husbandry and education. Among our achievements are to be the first aquarium in the world to have a sea otter conceived and born in captivity – and subsequently live to adulthood. We recently consolidated efforts to form an official Sea Otter Conservation Program.

  • Research: Our research efforts increase our knowledge of the animals we exhibit, contribute to conservation efforts in the wild, support public interest in research, and encourage young people to learn. We are involved in four sea otter research studies focused on; an annual census, population genetics, ecology and endocrinology.
  • Husbandry: Under the direction of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Seattle Aquarium created and maintains the North American Sea Otter Studbook, which documents the pedigree and entire demographic history of each sea otter exhibited in zoos and aquariums throughout North America.
  • Education: Sea otter-themed lesson plans are used for camps held at the Seattle Aquarium, as well as lessons that take place within our facility and in school classrooms.
  • Retail: In support of our efforts our gift store is presenting many Sea Otter Conservation products.

Come visit our sea otters at the Aquarium and learn more about the Sea Otter Conservation Program!

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