Sea Otter Awareness Day: Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport holds special event Saturday
NEWPORT, Ore. — What “otter” place is better to celebrate International Sea Otter Awareness Day than the Oregon Coast Aquarium? Saturday, September 30, the Aquarium is holding a special recognition event to raise awareness of the vital role sea otters play in nearshore ecosystems.
Although they may appear to be a simple ball of fuzz, sea otters are a “keystone” species that maintain the balance of marine habitats where they live aquarium officials say. For example, one of the primary food sources for sea otters are urchins, which feed on the holdfasts of kelp. Overgrazing by urchins can cause entire kelp forests to decline and their inhabitants to suffer. By keeping urchin populations in check, sea otters play a pivotal role in maintaining healthy kelp forest ecosystems. They also get a tasty meal out of it!
"Visit the Aquarium from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 30, for a variety of engaging activities and presentations planned to build your marine mammal knowledge and highlight the top-notch care that our four rescued sea otters receive," the aquarium said in a news release.
“This event is an exciting way to teach people about the ecological importance of sea otters along the Pacific coast, as well as demonstrate steps we can take to create a healthier environment for them,” said Lindsey Sprague, a marine mammologist at the Aquarium. “Our sea otters, Judge, Schuster, Nuka and Oswald, serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, and guests will have the opportunity to come behind the scenes with us for a sneak peek into how we look after our ‘boys’!”
Learn firsthand how the Aquarium staff train, feed and care for sea otters during live presentations, and test your luck in a raffle afterwards. Guests on the behind-the-scenes tour will get a glimpse of what goes in to sea otter husbandry, from sustainably-sourced, restaurant-quality seafood preparation to the enormous collection of enrichment items that keep these mischievous marine mammals too busy to get into trouble. Additionally, guests can relax at the Otter Story Station, get crafty making otter headbands, and look for sea otter jokes, facts, and questions spread throughout our exhibits as they explore Oregon’s coastal and marine environments.
The Aquarium’s four rescued sea otters comprise the largest group of permanent, resident sea otters in Oregon. Sea otters were once abundant along the Oregon Coast, but they were nearly hunted to extinction and are only occasionally sighted in Oregon to this day. The southern population is listed as threatened with endangerment, and the northern population also faces challenges.
Sea Otter Awareness Day activities are free with Aquarium admission. For more information, visit aquarium.org or call 541-867-FISH.