|River Otter along the banks of the Tuolumne River.|
The presence of otters in our rivers is a wonderful thing. As a top predator species in the ecosystem, river otters are often heralded as indicators of the health of the entire watershed. Like their seafaring counterpart, California's Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), the North American River Otter was once hunted extensively for it's thick pelt. Where otters once thrived, over hunting, followed closely by habitat loss and degradation, has taken a toll on their populations. As is the case with most aquatic (and semi-aquatic) species, water pollution is detrimental.
|River otter along the sandy bank of the San Joaquin River|
Only recently, river otters have been making a remarkable comeback in the watersheds of the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information on the valuable (and cute) North American River Otter, specifically their presence in the Bay Area, check out The River Otter Ecology Project's Website.