About seaotters.com

Seaotters.com is an education and outreach initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the critical role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the southern sea otter. In collaboration with researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, among others, seaotters.com offers an unprecedented look into the extraordinary life and world of this endearing and threatened species.

Seaotters.com is home of the world’s first HD live video stream of southern sea otters in the wild. Watch seaotters.com/live now!

Seaotters.com launched on March 24, 2012, the 23 year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Supplemental funding for initial content development was provided by way of the Luckenbach Oil Spills Trustee Council.

Among the key goals of seaotters.com are to:

  • leverage the strength and reach of digital and social media to educate the public about the interconnectedness of land and sea;  that the health of sea otters, the nearshore marine ecosystem and humans are inextricably linked; that what we do here on land not only impacts us, but also has lasting impacts on our oceans and marine life
  • raise awareness, understanding and action for solutions to the natural and anthropogenic factors threatening their population recovery
  • help raise funds for sea otter conservation
  • educate the public about the sea otters’ ecological role as a keystone and sentinel species
  • provide a central, comprehensive digital resource center dedicated to sea otter research, education, and conservation
  • promote environmental and scientific literacy in an engaging and meaningful way
  • aid in the dissemination of sea otter research


Seaotters.com Founder and Principal
Drew Wharton, Wharton Media

Scientific Advisory Board 

Dr. Tim Tinker
U.S. Geological Survey

Dr. David Jessup (retired)
California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Andy Johnson
Monterey Bay Aquarium

Dr. Terrie Williams
University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Christine Kreuder Johnson
University of California, Davis

Lilian Carswell
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Southern Sea Otter Research Alliance
The Southern Sea Otter Research Alliance represents a multi-disciplinary, collaborative team of researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), University of California at Davis (UCD), Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (MWVCRC), and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).  These six primary institutions, with help from other organizations and federal, state and municipal agencies have established a diverse and highly effective research program focused on conservation and recovery of the threatened southern sea otter and its ecosystem. The Alliance represents the cutting-edge of cross-disciplinary research, drawing upon the knowledge and expertise of researchers from many fields including behavior, ecology, epidemiology, microbiology, molecular biology, oceanography, parasitology, pathology, physiology, toxicology, and water quality to solve highly complex and otherwise intractable conservation problems. Emphasizing an ecosystem-based approach to solving the problems facing southern sea otters, the Alliance goes beyond a single species perspective to look at community-level interactions and land-sea connections that are relevant for the health of all coastal species, including humans, and to the stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem.


Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program has been studying and trying to save the threatened southern sea otter since 1984. They rescue, treat and release injured otters, raise and release stranded pups through their surrogate program, provide care for sea otters that can’t return to the wild, and conduct scientific research. Although SORAC focuses primarily on the southern sea otter, SORAC staff and volunteers collaborate with the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientists to study sea otters from Russia, to Alaska, to southern California.

U.S. Geological Survey – 
Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)

The Pacific Southwest is the country’s most ecologically rich and diverse area. It contains a dazzling array of habitats from below-sea-level deserts to alpine tundra to coastal mountains, seashores, and marine ecosystems. The scientists of the Western Ecological Research Center reflect the diversity of this region with expertise in a wide range of disciplines. Their capabilities fulfill the varied needs of clients and partners, from ecological research, monitoring and technology development to basic biology and modeling.

University of California, Santa Cruz

With the dynamic combination of university scientists, state-of-the-art analytical equipment, modern facilities, collaborative research opportunities, and an overriding commitment to quality in education and research, the University of California, Santa Cruz, is on the forefront of marine science research and education. Set on the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nation’s largest national marine sanctuary, the campus provides students and scientists who seek to study the ocean and its life a unique opportunity to pursue their dreams and ambitions.  The Institute of Marine Sciences, an organized research unit of the UCSC, has the responsibility to encourage, develop, and support university endeavors in marine science research and education.

University of California, Davis

The Wildlife Health Center (WHC) is a multidisciplinary program within the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis that focuses on the health of free-ranging and captive terrestrial and aquatic wild animals The Center draws upon faculty expertise spanning a wide range of wildlife species and scientific disciplines and attracts students from around the world to participate in its research and educational programs.

The WHC administers 12–15 programs including the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, the SeaDoc Society (a marine ecosystem health program based in the Pacific Northwest), and the Marine Ecosystem Health Diagnostic and Surveillance Laboratory. Many WHC faculty have research activities advancing our understanding of marine wildlife health, and sea otters in particular have been studied as sentinels for ocean health. Over the past 20 years WHC and UC Davis faculty have partnered with alliance members to investigate sea otter population health and the transport mechanisms driving pathogen pollution from land to sea in the near shore ecosystem.

For additional information, please visit www.seaotterresearch.org, an excellent online resource that’s an early collaborative product of the Sea Otter Alliance.

California Department of Fish & Wildlife | MWVCRC


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (MWVCRC) provides the best achievable treatment for marine mammals and birds affected by oil spills in marine waters.  Located on California’s central coast on the University of California Santa Cruz campus, this 18,000-square-foot center is the first of its kind in the United States dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and research of oiled marine wildlife, with emphasis on sea otters. The facility, built in 1997, is equipped with sea water pools and pens, wildlife washing and drying rooms, veterinary treatment and rehabilitation rooms, and laboratory space for up to 125 sea otters. It also provides the flexibility to care for other marine mammals and birds.  The center is the primary location for the DFW’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) oiled wildlife response unit, the centerpiece of the statewide Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

The MWVCRC was specified under the landmark Lempert-Keene-Seastrand oil spill act of 1990 which was California’s response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior.  As the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA), they take the lead in recovering and conserving our Nation’s imperiled species by fostering partnerships, employing scientific excellence, and developing a workforce of conservation leaders.  Their two primary goals are to:

1) Protect endangered and threatened species, and then pursue their recovery; and
2) Conserve candidate species and species-at-risk so that listing under the ESA is not necessary.

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About seaotters.com

Seaotters.com is dedicated to raising awareness about California's threatened sea otters and the role research plays in the species recovery and conservation. It's a collaboration of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Davis, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, among others. Seaotters.com is also home of the world's first HD live stream of southern sea otters in the wild.