Fall 1999

Visit The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Otter Habitat located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Learn about an Otter legend from the Cree Indians

Judy Berg describe Otter slides

From North America ? Check out where otters can be seen in captivity

Come back to learn more about North American River Otters - like "Minnesota" shown above from the John Ball Zoo in Michigan ! (Photo courtesy Jan Reed-Smith)

Otter Updates
By Tracy Johnston

Exxon Valdez: The Impact on Otters
At a recent symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, marine biologists from the University of California Santa Cruz reported only nine of the 37 rescued sea otters sent to zoos and aquariums are still alive. Biologist Terrie Williams said more than 75% have died prematurely, apparently from oil-related causes. Most of the otters died from the same type of lung damage that killed many sea otters within weeks of the spill. Many of the otters also had deteriorated livers, and approximately half of the pups born to the rescued otters have been stillborn.

Zookeeper Workshop on Otters
An otter workshop was held at the annual American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK) conference September 12-16, 1999, in Portland. AAZK Board Members Kevin Shelton of the Florida Aquarium and Jan Reed-Smith of the John Ball Zoo hosted the workshop. Agenda topics included discussions of diet, water treatment, health care, breeding, enrichment and training for husbandry procedures.

New Children's Books
The River Otter Alliance welcomes author Dorothy Wisbeski and her husband Luke to their mailing list. Mrs. Wisbeski recorded their experiences raising South American river otters as pets in suburban New Jersey during the 1960s and early 1970s in three delightful children's books: The True Story of Okee the Otter, Okee: The Story of an Otter in the House and Picaro, A Pet Otter.

Sea Otters on the Web
Want to learn more about sea otters? Go to the Discovery Channel Online web page (www.discovery.com/stories/nature/otters/nursery.html) and read about the Sea Otter Research & Conservation Program (SORAC)'s latest otter rescues. You'll also be able to view the Monterey Bay Aquarium's nursery through the "Otter Cam."

Taiwan Workshop
A workshop on the Conservation and Public Awareness of Otters will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, December 9-12, 1999. Goals for the workshop include: 1) To establish Asian strategies of promotion of public awareness for otter conservation through the case study of success stories in Europe; 2) To promote involvement of media persons into otter conservation; 3) To assist in initiating country conservation projects through production of awareness materials in local languages. The seminars will be in English. For information on the program, contact Hiroshi Sasaki, Secretary-General, Otter Research Group Japan, Chikushi Jogakuen Junior College, 2-12-1 Ishizaka, Dazaifu, 818-01 JAPAN.

(Office) Fax +81-92-928-6253; (Home) Tel/Fax +81-92-929-2924
Email: i79677g@wisdom.cc.kyushu-u.ac.jp

Southern Sea Otters Relocation
Draft reports from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released this March reported efforts to relocate sea otters from Southern California fishing grounds has been a failure and recommended the program be discontinued. Only 15 of the 140 otters trapped and moved to San Nicolas Island between 1987 and 1990 remain. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the rest either swam back to the mainland or died from the stress of the capture.

The program-initiated in 1986 to protect the state's shellfish industry-attempted to keep otters out of mainland waters south of Point Conception. The shellfish industry is angry the government may discontinue the relocation program, in spite of the recent decline in the California sea otter population to approximately 1,937. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the California sea otter requires a minimum population of 1,850 to sustain its existence.