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Otter Spotter: Engaging the Public in a Community Science Initiative 

February 27, 2019

Introducing Otter Spotter, a map-based otter sighting website helping to improve data collection, engage the public, and encourage stewardship of a living landscape inhabited by otters and many other mammals –  a project that meets the needs of people and wildlife.

The program encourages citizen scientists to participate in a Woodland Park Zoo study using river otters as biomonitors for the Lower Duwamish Waterway restoration project in Washington State. The website facilitates reporting otters sightings, but users cannot see any submitted data or how they are applied. So, researchers developed a public web map that illustrates the sightings —with input using an interactive map — and improves data extraction.

A visual field guide was also created by Washington Sea Grant to support the effort to educate the communities in and around the Lower Duwamish Waterway. By harnessing public interest, the Zoo can collect valuable otter data, while cultivating appreciation for the scientific process and fostering stewardship. Learn more about the Woodland Park Zoo’s Otter Spotter Program and explore the Otter Spotter Guide.