Sea Otter Awareness Week, the 11th annual recognition of the vital role these marine mammals play in the near-shore ecosystem, will be celebrated Sept. 22-28.

Sea otters will be celebrated Sept. 22-28Each year, universities, zoos, aquariums, marine institutions, researchers and the public participate in events and activities highlighting these creatures, their natural history and the conservation issues facing them.

CSU Monterey Bay – where the sea otter is the school’s mascot – will host a lecture at 7 p.m. on Sept. 23 as part of the activities.

Ron Eby and Robert Scoles, research volunteers at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, will present a talk on “The return of sea otters to Elkhorn Slough: What they have taught us and what we hope to learn.”

The public is invited to this free event, held in the University Center on Sixth Avenue and B Street.

Southern sea otters were abundant in estuarine environments prior to the loss of estuaries to development. Elkhorn Slough is the only estuarine environment that has been significantly re-colonized by otters. Eby and Scoles will discuss the positive benefits this environment provides otters and the benefit the otters provide the environment.

They will look at past studies and the Coastal Conservancy-funded research project planned for this fall in partnership with U.S. Geological Survey, UC Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and others.

Driving directions and a campus map are available here.