Otter Spotter: Engaging the Public in a New Community Science Initiative 

A map-based otter sighting website will help improve data collection, engage the public, and encourage stewardship of a living landscape that meets the needs of people and wildlife.

Principal Investigator

Michelle Wainstein, Woodland Park Zoo


The Otter Spotter program encourages citizen scientists to participate in a Woodland Park Zoo study using river otters as biomonitors for the Lower Duwamish Waterway restoration project. A website facilitates reporting otters sightings, but users cannot see any submitted data or how they are applied. Researchers developed a public web map that illustrates the sightings — input using an interactive map — and improves data extraction. A guide was also created. By harnessing public interest, the Zoo can collect valuable otter data while cultivating appreciation for the scientific process and fostering stewardship of a landscape that meets the needs of people and wildlife.  Learn more: Otter Spotter Guide