North Coast otter hunt

The loveable water weasels make themselves at home all over Humboldt County and environs. While you can sometimes spy them in rivers, marshes, lagoons and bays, there are 109 places we guarantee you will spot the most unusual otters ever.

And you can win cool prizes by doing so. As a fun fundraiser for wildlife biology students, Humboldt State University has scattered 108 ceramic otters, each transformed into a singular work of art, whether covered with mosaic tiles, clothed in Star Wars character garb or transformed into a robot, through five North Coast counties: Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou, Trinity and Del Norte.

Kids love to bag as many as they can. Each comes with a special code, which they write down in otter passport books, available in participating storefronts that host the Musteline Mammals, such as bookstores, cafes, hotels, visitor centers and state parks.

Humboldt Otter Art. Courtesy Mark Larson.

Those who collect 20 codes can enter into a sweepstakes for cool prizes. Parents swept into the critter craze can bid on the sculptures that catch their eye. The deadline for the bids is September 15, 2021, for the drawing entrees September 21, 2021.

Of course, live otters, indications of healthy habitats, are more thrilling to see. The HSU otter project encourages people to participate in the ongoing ‘citizen science’ by reporting when and where they see wild river otters throughout the North Coast.

Some of the most reliable places to see them are the Arcata Marsh, Stone Lagoon, Trinity River and, we can all but guarantee this last one, the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, which houses in an amazing aquatic wonderland three loveable whiskered brothers, who love to interact with humans on the other side of the glass.

108 artsy otters are scattered throughout the North Coast. Courtesy Humboldt State University.