Skip to main content
logo sos

Sea Otter Savvy

Sea Otter Science And Community Outreach

Sea Otter Awareness Week 2021

Photo by Jeff & Wendy Photography

Photo of a mother sea otter wrapped in kelp with her pup by Jeff & Wendy Photography.

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.

This year's Sea Otter Awareness Week's theme, Ecosystem Mosaic, follows the idea of the sea otter’s ecosystem as a mosaic of tiny parts in which the removal of key elements or damage to the system’s structure renders the ecological picture incomplete. 

SOAW fullLogo design by Heather BarrettThe Ecosystem Mosaic theme was inspired by groundbreaking research published by a collaborative of scientists from University of California Santa Cruz, the Western Ecological Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2021. This large-scale study examined ecosystem complexity revealed by the catastrophic loss of an important kelp forest predator -- the sunflower star. The sudden shift in the web of organisms uncovered new insights into the functional role of sea ottes in California kelp ecosystems. Dr. Joshua Smith, the lead author of this study, will be a featured speaker leading off the week's exciting agenda of events.

A mosaic relies on each piece of tile to contribute to a complete image. Similarly, a thousand tiny elements must coexist to form an ecosystem. Removing pieces from a mosaic equates to losing vital components of an ecosystem. As more parts are removed, the value of the art or the ecosystem diminishes.

Sea Otter Viewing Stations

Throughout Sea Otter Awareness Week 2021 (September 19-25) you can meet volunteers from SeaLife Stewards, Sea Otter Savvy, California State Parks, the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Defenders of Wildlife, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Santa Cruz Museum of NAtural History, and the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History to learn about sea otters and experience wild sea otters from the best viewing locations in California. Volunteers will be ready to help you be expert otter spotters with binoculars and spotting scopes, answer your sea otter questions, and share how you can help protect sea otters! Click on the Sea Otter Awareness Week icons on the map below to find the station nearest you. Each location icon has a photo of the site and hours when volunteers will be present. 

Highlights of Sea Otter Awareness Week 2021

For a full list of the week's events, visit the Defenders of Wildlife Sea Otter Awareness Week page.

Float Down the Coast Livestream

Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Sea otter experts will report live from as far north as Washington or British Columbia and all along the California coast south to Baja to share some science and stories about sea otters. 

Look for this livestream on Sea Otter Savvy and CA State Parks' YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. 

T-shirt fundraiser

Show off you sea otter awareness and support our cause by purchasing a t-shirt featuring the Ecosystem Mosaic logo! 

Fundraiser auction on eBay: Ecosystem Mosaic

Bid to win an original mosaic art piece by New World Mosaic's Juan Lopez. This peice was inspired by this year's logo and was custom made to commemorate the them of "Ecosystem Mosaic". Bidding on this striking art work will begin on September 19th and will run for 10 days. All proceeds will go to support Sea Otter Savvy in our mission to inspire stewardship of sea otters. 

Make your Ecosystem Mosaic!

Show us your creative side by entering the Ecosystem Mosaic Challenge! Download the template, follow the directions (be creative!), and share your masterpiece with @seaottersavvy in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. 

Ecosystem Mosaic Challenge template and instructions

We Were Here Events

wwh 1Look for the tag #WeWereHere for events that are part of our We Were Here sea otter program.

The goal of the We Were Here campaign is to educate the public and stakeholders in the San Francisco, Northern California regions about the historical role of sea otters and their potential value to northern California ecosystems. With the focus of southern sea otter conservation and recovery efforts increasingly focused on population expansion beyond the current range limits, it is vital to start instilling a sense of stewardship and a desire for coexistence among coastal communities where sea otters may soon appear.

Visit the We Were Here page and take the survey to share your opinion about reintroduction as a strategy to reestablish sea otters in their historical range. 

The Sea Otter Awareness Week Planning Team

Sea Otter Savvy
Defenders of Wildlife
California State Parks