There are simple guidelines marine recreationists can follow to avoid disturbing sea otters. Practice these yourself, and encourage others to do the same!
Avoiding direct interactions between sea otters, humans and pets
Habituated sea otters may try to interact with humans by climbing on kayaks. In scenarios like this, both humans and sea otters are at risk, and every attempt should be made to prevent physical interaction
- Recognize that incidents involving direct contact between a sea otter and you or your pet are very dangerous.
- If a sea otter approaches you while you are paddling a small craft or on shore, move away to avoid direct contact.
- If a sea otter attempts to climb on your watercraft, use your paddle or other object to block access and/or push the sea otter off of your craft.
- Do not attempt to touch or pet the sea otter or pause to take pictures.
- Do not allow your dog to chase, harass, or interact with a sea otter. A sea otter is capable of harming and even killing your pet.
What else can you do to help?
- Practice behavior that is respectful to sea otters and all wildlife when sharing their space.
- Encourage others to think about the needs and well‐being of sea otters when they are viewing them—be a sea otter savvy role model!
- Be proficient at handling and maneuvering your watercraft, whatever type or size of craft you are operating. First time kayaking? Ask for instruction on how to turn and stop skillfully before launching. It's safer for you and it's safer for wildlife!
Most people love sea otters and do not wish them harm. Armed with a little information, we can share the coastal environment respectfully and peacefully with sea otters! Understanding the needs of sea otters is most important to help prevent disturbance, but don't forget, sea otters are protected from harassment by two federal laws, state law and a number of local laws and regulations. Harassment and disturbance of them, even when unintentional, violates the law!