Otter & Dolphin


Population ecology matters – here’s why

A healthy otter and dolphin population is a signal that the Indian River Lagoon is doing well and supporting animals that rely on healthy fish and invertebrate animals. North American river otters are playful, inquisitive animals that live along the shore of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). Likewise, approximately 1,000 bottlenose dolphins call waters of the IRL home. The well being of the IRL’s otter and dolphin population can signal if there are environmental changes that could hurt wildlife and humans’ quality of life.

Ecology Population Studies

Immerse yourself in our research

Otter Ecology

Otters may be affected by unique challenges as an animal that lives on land and in water. For example, otters may be exposed to diseases that are indicative of negative run-off from human development along the coast. In addition, otters may be struck by cars due to new roads and traffic increases in Florida. By applying our expertise in marine mammal health and stranding response to river otters, we can broaden our IRL research and promote ocean health more effectively.

Dolphin Ecology

Our team is committed to monitoring dolphin health and distribution along the Indian River Lagoon and the Halifax River Estuary. Survey efforts provide abundance estimates that are critical to monitoring and managing dolphin populations that are consistently exposed to unexplained mortality events and increasing prevalence of human impacts. Likewise, our efforts expand our knowledge of distribution patterns, habitat usage, calving success, as well as the impacts of human activities on local dolphins.

Otter Spotter Project

A Citizen Science Project

The Otter Spotter project aims to educate and teach the public the significance of a healthy otter population, and use real time reporting from citizens to add data to the project. Have you seen a River Otter? Click here to tell us all about it and contribute to the data of our Otter Spotter project!

Report Otter Sightings

Residents in all areas of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and surrounding watersheds can become Otter Spotters by reporting otter sightings here.

Adopt an Otter Wildlife Camera

Adopting an otter wildlife camera directly funds river otter research by providing one full camera unit for each research location. Sponsorship comes with special perks at all levels. Cameras are placed around the Indian River Lagoon to study otter behavior, movement patterns and to gather scat samples. Your help is needed to better understand

and conserve Florida river otters. You can make an impact on this vital research by adopting a wildlife camera, or donating here.

Otter Spotter Map