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June 16, 2021, 7pm Zoom Program: Coastal River Otters - Dr. Heide Island

posted May 23, 2021, 5:29 PM by Roxie Rochat   [ updated Jun 17, 2021, 12:00 PM by Camano Wildlife Habitat ]
**New** Here is the recording of our June Program: A Comparative Study of Island County Coastal River Otters

From Heidi's website (which also has info about prey diversity from the Whidbey Island River Otter Research project):

Scat Collection and Otter Spotting Volunteers Needed!

If you have otters in your area, please report them to the WIRS Citizen Scientist Otter Reporting Website. For the truly industrious and committed, I have specimen collection kits prepared for those who have active latrines along their property. Please contact me if you would like one.  Further, if you have “problem” river otters occupying your decks, boats, or boathouses, please do not hesitate to contact me, I am interested in finding a solution for you and the otters. I would also be happy to plant an infrared camera in locations of heavy otter traffic – I share all images with the property owner.


Program Description:
Coastal river otters, like the ones that inhabit the Salish Sea, forage in both marine and freshwater environments and use the watershed and effluviant to the Sound to feed, travel, mate, and socialize. As otters move between these ecotones, they are exposed to pollution and environmental contaminants (e.g., brominated flame retardants). Through an understanding of the Puget Sound's coastal river otter diet, distribution, health and behavior, we have a better sense of the overall ecological health of our habitat. Dr. Island will discuss the natural history of otters, the local populations and how Island County's otters are serving as a comparator population for captive and rescued river otters.

Dr. Island is a Professor of Comparative Animal Behavior and Neuroscience at Pacific University in Oregon and a Senior Research Associate for the Oregon Zoo. She is the Principal Investigator in a 4-year longitudinal study of Whidbey Island's North American river otters. Her interests concern the welfare of captive and wild otter populations found in the Pacific Northwest (North American River otter and Sea Otters). Among rescued and captive populations, Dr. Island is interested in the development of social learning, outlets for natural foraging, and psychological welfare. Among wild otters, her work focuses specifically on Island County marine-foraging river otters, their distribution, diet, foraging patch variability between fresh and saltwater, photo identification of individual animals, and their genetic pedigrees, as well as their load of persistent organopollutants, collected through non-invasive and salvage sampling. The latter is particularly relevant for understanding the health of the local ecology.

Read about some of her otter research on her blog.  Here's the latest entry.

The Camano Wildlife Habitat Project, sponsored by Friends of Camano Island Parks, hosts public presentations the third Wednesday of the month. For information about the Camano Wildlife Habitat Project sponsored by Friends of Camano Island Parks, visit www.camanowildlifehabitat.orgcall 360-387-2236, or email camanowildlifehabitat@gmail.com.
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