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Sea Otter Savvy

Sea Otter Science And Community Outreach

Path to Coexistence: the 20th Sea Otter Awareness Week

A young boy discovers his path to coexistence with sea otters in Morro Bay, CA. Photo by Gena Bentall

Each year for two decades, throughout the last week of September, zoological and educational institutions, governmental agencies, and communities plan and undertake events that celebrate sea otters.

You can watch the Sea Otter Awareness Week 2022 Presenations here.

Sea Otter Awareness Week is about 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 otters bring vitality, resilience, and diversity to nearshore habitats, such as kelp forests and estuaries. A struggling sea otter population often signals imbalances within those habitats.

Sea Otter Savvy and our partners at Defenders of Wildlife are excited by the passage of a resolution in the California Legislature recognizing the 20th anniversary of Sea Otter Awareness Week. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 169 (ACR 169), authored and introduced by California Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-29) and coauthored by state Senator John Laird (D-17), highlights two decades of collaboration by numerous nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies in support of sea otter conservation and coastal habitat protection. In 2022, Sea Otter Awareness Week will run September 18-24.

FINAL SOAW LOGO2.0This year’s theme for the week is “Path to Coexistence” ―celebrating both the recovery of sea otters to places where they were once extirpated by the Maritime Fur Trade of the 18th and 19th centuries and the growing efforts by communities to support sea otter recovery and promote coexistence. The 2022 logo, designed by Sea Otter Savvy’s own Heather Barrett, challenges us to identify the many components of the world of a sea otter mom and her pup―can you find them all? Do you see yourself in her world? What can you do on your “path to coexistence” to make the world safer and more peaceful for sea otters?

Try out our Coexistence Image Search puzzle here or click logo at right.

 “As they recover from near extinction at our hands, it is time to redefine our coexistence with sea otters. A new paradigm that is founded not just in sea otters adapting to us, but a mutual coexistence that grows from awareness and respect. This is the essence of Sea Otter Awareness Week for me.”    - Gena Bentall, Director of Sea Otter Savvy

Follow along with Sea Otter Savvy and the many partners and participants of the 20th Sea Otter Awareness Week as we promote events, presentations, in-person viewing stations (see the map below), and a raft-load more. Don't miss exploring the world of sea otters from Alaska to San Nicolas Island in the unique live-streamed event  "Float Down the Coast with Sea Otters" (September 21 at noon on our YouTube channel), and follow every day of our  “7 Days of Sea Otter Savvy” on our social media to take a quiz and earn a chance at a prize at week's end! Many events have a special connection with our We Were Here program, so look for the We Were Here logo and share your voice about sea otter recovery in the stakeholder survey

Head to Sea Otter Awareness Week headquarters at Defenders of Wildlife for a full schedule.

Sea Otter Viewing and Information Stations

guidelines girlThroughout Sea Otter Awareness Week 2022 (September 18-24) you can meet volunteers from SeaLife Stewards, Sea Otter Savvy, California State Parks, California Department of Fish & Wildlife,  Defenders of Wildlife, and the Santa Cruz, Pacific Grove, and  Morro Bay State Park Museums 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 transform you into expert otter spotters with binoculars and spotting scopes, answer your sea otter questions, and share how you can help protect sea otters and be sea otter savvy!

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. 


Spotlight on the Pioneer of Sea Otter Awareness Week

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis year, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sea Otter Awareness Week, we are proud to carry on the legacy of its founder and creator, Jim Curland. Working at Defenders of Wildlife as their Marine Program Associate from 2001 – 2011, Jim was asked to come up with “something special” for the sea otter, a threatened species Defenders of Wildlife works to protect. Jim began partnering with educational facilities, non-governmental organizations, zoos and aquaria in California and eventually in other states and countries to develop the first ever species awareness program. It evolved into a week-long event educating people about sea otters with scientific talks by researchers, special presentations at aquaria with sea otter exhibits, and teaching programs in school classrooms about the otter’s threatened status, natural history and ecology. Eventually Jim garnered proclamations from a number of cities declaring that the last full week in September each year would become “Sea Otter Awareness Week.”  Additionally, Jim helped get legislation passed in the state of California recognizing this event. Jim, along with volunteer Judy Proud, and other sea otter partners established this annual event that is now 20 years strong and still bringing awareness to these unique marine mammals and the challenges they face.

Read more about Jim and his research here.