Wednesday, May 29th 2019, 2:40 pm - Need a mid-week pick me up? World Otter Day is here to help.
Every day of the year may be World 'Something' Day, but May 29's animal of honour may be one of the cutest.
World Otter Day marks its fifth year in 2019, with the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) leading the cause to raise awareness about the challenges facing one of the world's most photogenic creatures.
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There are thirteen species of otters worldwide, and all of them appear on the IUCN "Red List of Threatened Species", including North America's Sea Otter and the North American River Otter.
According to the IOSF, about 50,000 North American River Otters are killed by trapping each year in the U.S. and Canada, and while the IUCN categorizes them as 'least concern' -- meaning they aren't considered actively endangered -- the lack of monitoring data on the species makes it hard to be sure.
Sea Otters, on the other hand, continue to face serious challenges to their survival, including pollution, lack of food, and disease. In recent years, toxic algae blooms -- spurred by the notorious Pacific Blob of warm water that forms off the coast of British Columbia -- has killed hundreds of sea otters along the coast and in Alaska.
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Otters around the world are also threatened by illegal trading for pelts and, in increasing numbers, as pets.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
If you're interested in giving otters a helping hand, there are things you can do without venturing down to the river.
- Reduce your oil use. Oil spills can devastate otter habitats
- Choose sustainable seafood. Sea otters can be trapped in fishing nets
- Cut down on plastic. Avoid plastic and Styrofoam packaging, a massive component in ocean pollution
- Be mindful of what you put down the drain, and use 'green' cleaners and organic gardening techniques when possible
Below is a look at some of the critters you could be helping to save, and check out the hashtag #WorldOtterDay if you can't get enough.