“Clean water, healthy habitats where we live and play!”

HSU Citizen Science River Otter Study

I remember all my encounters with river otters really well. It is always special for me.”

Citizen Scientist

The HSU citizen science River otter project is, just that, a citizen science project that was designed in 1999 by Dr. Jeff Black, a Wildlife Biologist at Humboldt State University. The goal of the study is to learn more about river otters on the coasts, wetlands and watersheds in Humboldt, Del Norte and adjacent counties.

For over 20 years, thousands of community members, who we call ‘citizen scientists’ or ‘community scientists’ continue to report observations of wild river otters seen on the north coast, making this long-term and wide-ranging study of our local river otters possible.

Citizen Science Project Participant – Talia Rose from “Interesting People” documentary web-series by Xack Fischer

Results from the HSU Citizen Science River Otter Study

These results come from a series of studies conducted by project leads between 1999-2020 utilizing river otter data submitted by citizen scientists and additional student led research.

Results #1

In total, citizen-science volunteers have reported 6,120 River Otter observations to the study.

Results #2

The number of community otter spotters is increasing annually with an average of 200 observers per year. Join this growing community by submitting your next river otter observation!

Results #3

During the study, 148 litters were identified in 39 watercourses. Litter size ranged from 1 to 4 pups and did not vary significantly among years or waterbodies.

Results #4

DNA extracted from river otter scat (poop) found at latrines (communal bathrooms) confirms the usefulness of long term citizen science efforts, which provides an index of the population on the North Coast.

How to use the map

Select: to view and select by different observation years and stories of people, places, and otters

Select: to change the background map

Select: to click on the to read stories from project participants and leads

Select: to move around on the map

Select: to zoom in

Select: to zoom out

Primary study area

Map created by Karlee Jewell using ArcGIS Pro version 2.5.1 and contain GIS data layers collected between 2015-2020 from the HSU Citizen Science River Otter Study.