Sea Otter Science

Sea otters play a critical ecological role in the marine environment as a “keystone” of the kelp ecosystem. What is the status of sea otter populations along the Pacific coast? Why are scientists concerned about kelp habitat in Oregon and beyond? How do otters enhance kelp habitat? How would sea otter reintroduction effect the shellfish industry? Learn more about sea otters and the kelp ecosystem in Oregon.


Sea otters disappeared along the Oregon coast over a century ago, however several recovered populations and subspecies exist across the pacific region.

A Keystone Predator

Explore how sea otters are a keystone species underpinning a healthy, resilient kelp ecosystem.

The Kelp Ecosystem

Learn more about the kelp ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest, concerning trends and important conservation efforts.

Modern Threats

While protections and restoration work has recovered sea otters in some regions, new threats loom on the horizon.

Impacts of Reintroduction?

The return of sea otters to the Oregon coast may have a mix of economic and social impacts depending on the location of their return and the number of otters. 

Resource Library

Explore a comprehensive collection of reference material covering the history, anthropology, ecology, conservation, and cultural dimensions of sea otters and the kelp ecosystem.