Woodland Park Zoo’s otter project has concluded, but we welcome you to continue to submit otter sightings on our new Carnivore Spotter site.



Carnivore Spotter

From 2016 to 2019, Woodland Park Zoo was engaged in a river otter research project in King County. We asked for your help in reporting otter sightings around the region. Thank you for submitting more than 1,100 sightings to Otter Spotter! Your sightings and information made Otter Spotter a huge success, and supported valuable research on river otter ecology and environmental health. While our otter project has concluded, you can explore otter sightings reported to Otter Spotter from April 2016 to July 2019 in the map below. See below for further results from the river otter research project.

We also welcome you to continue to submit otter sightings on our new Carnivore Spotter site, part of the Seattle Urban Carnivore Project. Visit Carnivore Spotter now to report your local carnivore sightings and explore sightings throughout Seattle!

Carnivore Spotter

For the best experience, please use the Carnivore Spotter in Chrome or Firefox.


Otter Spotter Tips and Etiquette

  • Respect all posted signs and property lines when otter spotting.
  • If you spot an otter, please observe from a safe distance. Do not approach or harass the otters.
  • Take only photos and notes, never resources or materials from the area of your sighting.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and stay safe, especially when navigating waterways or areas with low visibility.
  • Be prepared with helpful gear including binoculars, camera and/or notebook and pen for recording observations, and GPS detector or app.
  • Not sure if you've seen a river otter or a sea otter? Use these helpful tips from Seattle Aquarium to tell them apart.
  • River otters can be confused for several other local wildlife species. Check out our semi-aquatic mammal guide to help with your identification skills.


Sentinels of Ecological Health: About the Research Project

The Green River flows from undeveloped Washington wildland through increasingly urbanized areas to become the Duwamish River—Seattle’s major industrial corridor since the early 1900s. Along the entire 92+ mile route, one mammal that calls the river home can serve as a telling indicator of the health of this critical waterway—the North American river otter.

The Lower Duwamish Waterway (LDW)—the final 5 miles of the river as it empties into Puget Sound—has a complex history and challenging future. The US Environmental Protection Agency has identified the LDW as a Superfund site for environmental remediation in response to long-term industrial pollutant exposure and urgent concern about contaminant levels.

Studying the population trends of river otters and the pollutants in their scat along the length of the Green-Duwamish River helped to establish a baseline understanding of the contaminant load under a range of conditions, including the current polluted state of the LDW. Such empirical data can help inform long-term studies and shape conservation strategies as remediation efforts continue at the Superfund site.

See the results – Published article

See the results - Poster

See the results - One page summary

Our Mission

Woodland Park Zoo saves wildlife and inspires everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.

Land Acknowledgment

Woodland Park Zoo recognizes that these are the lands of the Tribal signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliott. We acknowledge their stewardship of this place continues to this day and that it is our responsibility to join them to restore the relationship with the living world around us.

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