River Otter Ecology Project is Earth Day Exhibit

Sustainable Rossmoor is honored and excited to welcome back the River Otter Ecology Project as an exhibitor at the Rossmoor Earth Day event on Friday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Fireside Room and adjacent patio at Gateway.

The River Otter Ecology Project is an organization whose mission is to “illustrate the linkages between the recovery of local river otter populations and healthy watersheds, and foster public and organizational participation in restoration and conservation.” The project is the first in Central and Northern California to investigate these linkages.

At one time, river otters had just about been eradicated from Central and Northern California, but they are now making a comeback. These charismatic animals use every part of a watershed, from headwaters to the ocean, so their return due to healthier watersheds is very encouraging. Very little is known about the ecology and current status of river otters.

The River Otter Ecology Project studies the status, range, reproduction, diet and general ecology of the species in coastal watersheds of the San Francisco Bay Area. The project has quite a few important organizations assisting it with this endeavor, including the U.S. National Park Service (Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore), California State Parks, Mt. View Sanitary District, Marin Municipal Water District and The Marine Mammal Center. Some of the investigative research for the project is done by volunteer otter spotters who observe river otters in neighborhood streams and rivers and submit information to the ecology project.

Rossmoor happens to have its own river otter, Stanley. He was spotted quite often last year in the pond on Stanley Dollar Drive (hence, the name). He hasn’t been spotted this year yet so keep a lookout for him, his relatives and friends so you can report it to the River Otter Ecology Project.

Here are a few fun otter facts: • River otter or sea otter? You can encounter both otters in salt water. • How do you tell them apart? Sea otters float on their backs, river otters don’t. • In the water, river otters are always active and moving quickly. • Sea otters are clumsy on land and rarely seen on shore. • River otters are agile both in and out of the water.

Look for the River Otter Ecology Project exhibit at Sustainable Rossmoor’s Earth Day 2017 on Friday, April 21, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Fireside Room and patio at Gateway Clubhouse. This is a very well attended event so carpooling, biking and walking is encouraged.

This article was originally published in the Rossmoor News, March 1, 2017, author Barb Coenen.

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